Chinese Church Voices

Speed Skating Coach Li Yan Talks about the Bible

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

The most successful short track speed skating coach in the world is Li Yan. She is also a Christian. The Christian Times recently reported on the importance of faith in her life.

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games have come to a close, but the excitement lingers in the hearts of many people. This is especially true for the Chinese Short Track speed skating team which impressed the world by winning two gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal. The coach Li Yan is considered one of the most successful short track speed skating coaches in the world.

She has led the Chinese team to 2 Winter Olympic Games, at which the team won a record-breaking total of 6 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 1 bronze medal. Because her contract with the Chinese Skating Association will expire in May of this year, many people have expressed concern about her future in the sport.

Although she is the world’s most successful coach, Li Yan is also an ordinary wife and mother who wants to help her daughter grow up healthy. “Glory is temporary,” she say, “but it takes a lifetime to grow. I do not want to be absent while my daughter grows up. As a devout Christian, Li Yan also speaks of the importance of the Bible in her life. The past four years have not been easy for Li Yan. From winning four gold medals at the Vancouver Olympic Games to the internal turmoil on the team, to Wang Meng’s strong comeback and loss, she has experienced many ups and downs. But in all of these situations, her faith sustained her. In an interview with the magazine “Express,” she repeatedly shared how the Bible verse “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (ESV) has helped her deal with the pressure. “This sentence helped me slay the demons of my heart.”

According to the article in “Express,” Li Yan’s husband and daughter are in the United States, and the first thing she wanted to do after the competition on the 21st was talk to them on the phone. When Li Yan became the coach, her daughter was only a year and a half old; now she is 9. Early on, she only knew that her mother was very busy, (“always at a meeting”). Only recently has she come to realize the importance of her mother’s career. Li Yan calmly shares, “when my daughter makes hand-made cards, there is always one sentence: ‘I want to spend more time with my mom.'” “Glory is temporary, but it takes a lifetime to grow. I do not want to miss out on my daughter’s growth.”

Before leaving Sochi, she told the team that it would be the last Olympics she would coach the team. Today, however, she is a bit more relaxed. She said, “My love of short track speed skating has not diminished, but I am quite tired. I need to find a balance between my career and my family. In May we will take a family vacation, and I will listen to what they have to say.

Original article: 中国短道速滑队主帅李琰坦承 (Christian Times)

Photo: China team win relay, by leniners, via Flickr and  Christian Times
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