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Yao Ming, Song Andong Weigh in Beijing 2022 Bid
   2015-07-29 20:11:06    Xinhua      Web Editor: Xie

Yao Ming (R), former NBA star, and Song Andong, the first Chinese-born player to be drafted into the National Hockey League, speak at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, on July 28, 2015. [Photo: weibo.com]

With two days to go before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides on the 2022 Winter Olympic Games host city, Yao Ming and Song Andong, two best known Chinese sportsmen, said they can't wait for the result.

"I was very excited, it's a dream of any athletes to compete in Olympics and it's a special honor doing that in your home country and the city you grow up," said Song, a teenager born in Beijing who became the first Chinese-born player to be drafted into the National Hockey League.

"There is a big population behind me and the younger generation of kids is growing up. They can participate in the sport. That's how we going to develop the sport as a whole and we will grow into one of the powerhouses hopefully."

Song, who captained the Chinese team in the past two years at the IIHF Division II-B World Under-18 Championship, was confident that Chinese ice hockey would become stronger. "I think it's not impossible with practical effort and hard work, it's something you can achieve," said Song when asked about whether Chinese Hockey League had the possibility to catch up with NHL one day.

As another ambassador of Beijing 2022, Yao Ming expressed the same desire and enthusiasm to bring the Winter Olympic Games to the most populous country in the world.

"Legacy is everything," talked Yao about how 2008 Games impacted Beijing.

"Beijing 2008 allowed us to experience Olympic spirit. 2022 give us a chance to carry on the spirit and reach another level and it is equal to everyone."

Yao regarded 2008 Games as a character-changing milestone for Chinese people.

"Before that, everybody focused on how many golds we will have and how many medals we get on the paper, and after that people started to pursuit their personal life and more personality. I feel it very strong and people have different opinions can talk with each other about different ideas and different things."

As the most successful Chinese basketball player in NBA, Yao was seen as an role model by Song, a ice-breaking player who carries the national hope of becoming Yao Ming on the field of ice hockey.

"Yao Ming has always been a role model of mine," said 18-year-old Song.

"What he has done in his career and what he has done to basketball in China is what I try to reach for. He is really motivated and really got basketball surge in China and I'm trying to do the same thing."

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