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US skating legend Kwan sees 'surge of Chinese champions'

06 December 2018, MVT 16:20
US figure skating legend Michelle Kwan
06 December 2018, MVT 16:20

Figure skating legend Michelle Kwan said Thursday she anticipates "a surge of future champions" from China and believes the hosts are poised to take the Beijing 2022 Olympics by storm.

The five-time world champion from the United States was speaking during a visit to Shanghai, where she saw first hand how China is throwing resources and its considerable manpower at the next Winter Games.

The 38-year-old, considered one of the finest skaters of all time, said: "I thought it was amazing because what I witnessed was five year olds, their fifth time skating and they're agile and learning.

"It was such an opportunity to see a future Olympic champion or the next generation of athletes."

Kwan said that she saw Chinese children who were ahead of her when she was an aspiring skater of a similar age.

"What I witnessed two days ago was this surge of future champions," the former nine-time US champion said, adding that the United States could learn from China.

"For example, the young kindergarteners getting on the ice. We don't have such programmes."

Speaking at the NYU Shanghai campus, Kwan said that she had no political ambitions -- she worked on Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign in 2016.

But she is open to the possibility of helping China in the build-up to Beijing 2022.

China won just one gold medal -- nine medals overall -- at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics this year.

Such a modest haul on home soil is unthinkable so China has been employing a growing number of foreign coaches.

Kwan, born in California to parents from Hong Kong, said she had held "one-off conversations" about playing a role.

"I'm always up for helping young aspiring athletes," said the two-time Olympic medallist.

Shanghai, China | AFP