Pass­ing on his skills keeps skater busy

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By LEI LEI leilei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Fig­ure skater Tong Jian was busy af­ter his re­tire­ment in March 2015.

Within 18 months, he reg­is­tered a com­pany, got an in­vest­ment for fi­nanc­ing and opened his own fig­ure skat­ing cen­ter.

Now, be­sides be­ing a for­mer world cham­pion and Olympic sil­ver medal­ist, Tong cap­tured one more ti­tle - founder of iskat­ing com­pany.

“I used to think that I would feel a loss for a while af­ter my re­tire­ment, but it was to­tally dif­fer­ent since I’m ful­filled ev­ery day at the startup,” Tong said.

Tong and his part­ner Pang Qing are con­sid­ered China’s sec­ond-best fig­ure skat­ing pair all-time be­hind three-time world cham­pi­ons and Van­cou­ver Win­ter Olympic gold medal­ists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.

Af­ter an­nounc­ing his re­tire­ment from com­pe­ti­tion in March 2015, Tong gave up his coach­ing po­si­tion on the na­tional team and de­cided to start his own busi­ness, which is also closely re­lated to his beloved sport – fig­ure skat­ing. But this time, it’s not for com­pet­ing for Olympic glory, but pro­mot­ing the sport to more youths.

In June 2015, Tong reg­is­tered iskat­ing com­pany. In March, iskat­ing APP, a mo­bile phone ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­oped by the com­pany, went on­line, pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion for fig­ure skat­ing fans to know more about the sport, find the near­est ice rink and book train­ing classes.

“As a win­ter sport ath­lete, the luck­i­est thing is that Bei­jing won the host­ing rights for the 2022 Win­ter Olympic Games. Fac­ing such a great op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote fig­ure skat­ing, we hope to draw on help from the in­ter­net to seek a way to bet­ter de­velop the sport,” the 37-yearold Tong said dur­ing a Ap­plestyle pre­sen­ta­tion for the launch of the app on March 24.

Soon af­ter the launch, his com­pany gained its first in­vest­ment from Huace Film&TV for three mil­lion yuan ($450,000).

Pang Qing & Tong Jian Fig­ure Skat­ing Cen­ter, a train­ing club, opened on June 18.Tong has in­vited sev­eral of China’s top re­tired skaters to join his coach­ing team, in­clud­ing for­mer junior Grand Prix fi­nal men’s sin­gles cham­pion Gao Song, for­mer na­tional men’s sin­gles junior cham­pion Liu Ji­ax­ing and for­mer na­tional team pairs coach Ding Yang.

“Start­ing up my own busi­ness is the con­tin­u­a­tion of my dream,” Tong told China Daily. “I was seek­ing the peak of my com­pet­i­tive ca­reer while I was an ath­lete, but now I want to widen the scope of the sport by spread­ing it to more peo­ple.”

Team­ing up in 1993, Tong and part­ner Pang have de­voted ev­ery­thing to the sport. Although their ca­reers were full of ups and downs and they strug­gled with in­juries, they never gave up.

From 1993 to 1998, they had to train by them­selves in their home­town of Harbin be­cause coach Yao Bin was work­ing with Shen and Zhao in Bei­jing.

They faced the choice of whether or not to con­tinue skat­ing, but de­cided to keep go­ing and later moved to Bei­jing to train with the na­tional team.

Mak­ing their World Cham­pi­onships de­but in 2000, Pang and Tong made steady progress and clinched the bronze medal in the com­pe­ti­tion in 2004. At the 2006 Turin Win­ter Games, they nar­rowly missed out on a medal, fin­ish­ing fourth.

They reached the first peak of their ca­reer by win­ning the world cham­pion ti­tle a month later.

Ham­pered by in­juries, the pair missed the podium at the 2008 and 2009 worlds but came back with new rou­tines late in 2009 and re­gained their form to claim sil­ver at the 2010 Van­cou­ver Win­ter Olympics, where Shen and Zhao took the gold in a ma­jor break­through for China’s fig­ure skat­ing.

The duo re­gained a ca­reer high by win­ning the 2010 world cham­pi­onships.

Af­ter the pairs com­pe­ti­tion in Van­cou­ver, Pang and Tong an­nounced they were in love. Six years later, on the open­ing day of their skat­ing cen­ter, they reg­is­tered for mar­riage.

Re­tired with Tong, Pang is also stay­ing with the sport. She is now a mem­ber of the na­tional coach­ing team and also works as a TV com­men­ta­tor for the fig­ure skat­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

Tong is sat­is­fied with how things are go­ing so far.

“The skat­ing cen­ter is go­ing bet­ter than ex­pected as we have al­ready got nearly 100 mem­bers within three months,” Tong said.

Tong’s ef­forts have gained ap­plause from their hero coach.

Yao Bin, head coach of the na­tional team, said Tong’s skat­ing cen­ter “bet­ter serves China’s skat­ing”.

“Only by do­ing this could he pass the ad­van­tages of China’s fig­ure skat­ing to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and achieve a brighter fu­ture for the sport,” Yao said.

ISKAT­ING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Tong Jian (left) per­forms with chil­dren at the Pang Qing & Tong Jian Fig­ure Skat­ing Cen­ter in Bei­jing.

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