In women's mass start final of speed skating competition at the PyeongChang Olympics on Saturday, Guo Dan, student from the School of Sports of Soochow University, placed 10th among all the competitors. Although Guo didn't won a medal that she aimed at, such achievement was already beyond Guo's dream.
Born in Beijing in 1990, Guo Dan joined the team of speed roller skating of Jiangsu Province in 2003 and spent much of her time training for speed skating in Suzhou thereafter. The first major honor that Guo achieved was the championship at the 2005 Asian Championships of Speed Roller Skating, which was a breakthrough for Chinese skaters and also made Guo acknowledged worldwide. Since then, Guo has competed at several international competitions as a roller skater. She most notably secured a gold medal in the women's 20000m elimination race during the 2013 World Games which was held in Colombia.
Due to her outstanding performance, Guo Dan was highly appreciated and reputed at CCTV and nominated twice as the "Best Non-Olympic Athlete". Guo was also a torchbearer for 2008 Beijing Olympics as the only bearer relaying the torch by roller skating.
From roller skating to ice-skating
In 2014, at the age of 25, Guo decided to switch from roller skating to ice-skating as she was aiming to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics. After two years' training, Guo won the national championship of speed skating in 2016 and then joined the national team. She took part in the Asian Winter Games and competed in the women's mass start event. She won the Silver at 2017-18 Season ISU Speed Skating World Cup US Competition, which brought a direct entry ticket to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
It is the first time that mass start has been introduced to the Olympics for both women. Unlike traditional speed skating events, athletes wear helmets for the 16-lap contest which includes intermediate sprints after four, eight and 12 laps as well as a sprint finish, the skaters racing each other instead of against the clock.
Aiming at the top three, Guo compromised at the competitions at the first three sprints, which means she gave up the chances of winning the 4th - 8th places; she would be either in the top three or placed after the 8th. Unfortunately, Guo's strategy didn't work and she was ranked the 10th in the end.
Passing on the "positive energy"
"There is no end to a dream." Guo Dan has been trying her best to abide with her motto.
In 2016, Guo Dan was enrolled in the School of Sports of Soochow University as an undergraduate student majoring in sports training and the faculty designed a special curriculum for Guo Dan and her classmates.
"It' was an important turning point for me to join Soochow University", as Guo Dan said. After becoming a student at Soochow, Guo made full use of her time to learn about sports psychology, anthroponomy, and sports nutrition in a more systematic manner. She also expects to engage in her study more exclusively after the Winter Olympics.
Here are some words for students and teachers at Soochow from Guo Dan:
There is no end to a dream and it's never too late to start. If there is a dream, pursue it; if there is an aim, achieve it. The harder you work, the better person you will see in yourself, and the more value you will create for yourself. Wish everyone at Soochow can carry on with a dream, step by step, never stop.