China's cycling camp said it would be hard for them to rally to medal victory following a decision by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to take two time trials events out of the Beijing 2008 Olympics programme, namely the Men's Kilo and the Women's 500m time trial. (Also see: Killing the Kilo and the 500)
The move has dealt a hefty blow to the Olympic gold medal dream of Chinese cyclists who clinched the country's first ever Olympic silver in the women's 500-metre time trial at the Athens Games last year. "I was so surprised when I heard the events were removed from the Games," said Tian Junrong, vice-director of China's Administrative Centre of Cycling and Fencing, China's governing body of cycling. "I have to say the changing of events poses an incredible difficulty for us to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil," said Tian.
The time trial event, which made its Olympic debut at Sydney in 2000, is seen as China's sole opportunity to win an Olympic cycling gold at the 2008 Games. Jiang Yonghua had held the world record since the 2002 World Cycling Championships when she took a precious silver at the Athens Games behind Australian Anna Meares, who won the gold in a new world record time. "We have been working hard on the women's 500-metre time trial over the past years and our cyclists did make great improvements," Tian continued. "But now we will have to change the training plan in the coming three years and put more effort into other events."
The 32-year-old Jiang echoed Tian's sentiments, saying the new rules could possibly put an end to her professional career. "I don't know why they made such changes and this is certainly a disaster for me," she said. "I will have to switch to other cycling events or just to retire after the Tenth National Games this autumn, anyway, it's still too early to make the decision."
Courtesy of China Daily