Short track speed skating legend Yang Yang enjoyed a walk down memory lane on a recent trip to Norway as part of the International Olympic Committee delegation’s visit to review the progress of the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games.
The two-time Olympic champion, and five-time overall world champion, was delighted to return to the venue that hosted her first ever World Championships in 1995; the iconic Gjøvik Olympic Cavern Hall, which is uniquely built into the mountains and will host the ice hockey competition in 2016.
“It’s very special to be back here,” said Yang, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee. “All the memories have come flooding back. This was my first ever, ever World Championships. I remember how nervous I was and how impressed I was by the rink.”
Expanding on these fond memories, Yang added: “I travelled around the world, I competed in many places, but this is such a unique venue because it is the only one built into the mountains. When you walk down the long hallway it’s kind of an adventure. It will be a very special experience for the young athletes to be here and competing here. “
So, is the now retired athlete a little jealous she never got the chance to compete in the Youth Olympic Games? “Of course,” Yang laughed. “At the time I was competing we didn’t have the Youth Olympic Games and at my first Olympic Games (Nagano 1998) I was very nervous. I never had any chance to compete against so many different people competing in so many different events at the same time. If I had the opportunity before the Nagano Games to experience something like this I think I would have been more ready. “
Watch Yang’s historical win at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games.