|China's Wang Bingyu competes during women's round robin event of curling against Sweden at 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Curling Center, Gangneung, Republic of Korea, Feb 21, 2018. [Xinhua]|
China's most popular curling star and former world champion Wang Bingyu has taken on a new role as curling program director on the organizing committee for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
As an athlete, Wang tasted the joy of becoming China's first world curling champion, and also plumbed the depths of failure at the Winter Olympics. In her eyes, this new role is also a blessing allowing her to keep curling in her life.
At the recently-concluded 2019 Curling World Cup grand final in Beijing, Wang appeared frequently in the stadium - not as the captain of Chinese team, but an organizer of the event. After her 18-year career as an athlete, Wang now truly understands that a competition requires a huge amount of dedication from people behind the scenes.
"It was not until I took this job that I truly became grateful," Wang said. "I suddenly realized that in every previous game, there were so many people who served the athletes, such as security, volunteers, referees, and the entire training team.
"Earlier, when I wanted a tissue during the game, it was just near at hand. I took it for granted at that time, but now I know it's the result of careful planning by the team. In every single game, so many people dedicate themselves to providing an all-round service for us."
"It never occurred to me that I would participate in Beijing 2022 in such a different capacity. It did make a big difference in my life — new colleagues, new tasks, new pressure — but I cherish my new life now," she added.
Learning to balance
In November 2018, three months after joining the Winter Olympics Organizing Committee, Wang officially announced her retirement from curling through social media.
Not only did she bid farewell to the curling rink, she also said goodbye to those bittersweet days when she often had to spend long hours in closed training away from her family.
But the habits formed over 18 years were not easily changed. At first, she was not used to her new 9-to-5 working schedule. "When I was training, I had no idea when my holiday would be," Wang said. "Then I told myself to enjoy my weekends and holidays, since there are so many things besides training in life."
Wang also learned to strike a balance between work and life between two cities. Her three-year-old daughter is taken care of by her parents in her hometown of Harbin, so she manages to find time to return home to see her as often as possible.
"Now I go home once every two or three weeks. I will try to witness every important moment of my daughter's life. I must learn to balance work with home life."
The wisdom of curling
18 years of curling gave Wang a deeper understanding of the sport than almost anyone else, and her life philosophy was also taken from it.
Competitive sports, Wang said, are real and cruel. There is only one champion. However, a temporary win or loss does not represent the meaning of the game; it is the process that makes it meaningful. Life can never be a smooth journey, and the biggest pleasure is to overcome every obstacle in life, just like untangling from a stalemate in a curling match.
"You may have forgotten those easy victories like a 11-1 crushing, but those neck-and-neck games will remain unforgettable. For the same reason, if life is too smooth, there will be no impressive memories. We face different problems, solve them, and enjoy the present. That is how I hope to live my life," said Wang.