XI'AN, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Despite a medal-less finish, the 12-girl Macao artistic swimming team cherished its National Games appearance, said head coach Wang Ruihua in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The artistic swimming competition concluded before Wednesday's opening ceremony of China's 14th National Games. Macao finished 10th in the 11-side competition.
"All the 12 girls are amateurs and competed in the National Games for the first time. Most of them are still high school students with an average age of 16.8 and the youngest is at 15. After class, they have only one hour for training as they have to do a lot of curricular homework," Wang said.
"The whole team gathered in this summer vacation, which means we did not have enough time for pre-Games practice," Wang added.
Wang, born in northern city of Dalian, is one of the first artistic swimming coaches in China.
"Since its founding in 1997, the Macao artistic swimming team has been an amateur squad lack of professional training compared with team China. So all my girls feel great to have a chance to compete with world-class swimmers like Sun Wenyan and Huang Xuechen in the same pool," said Wang.
"Even though we knew that we have to be isolated for 14 days in Macao after the National Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, none of us gave it up," she added.
In the 2018 Jakarta Asiad, Macao finished fourth in artistic swimming.
"Although we did not qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, all the girls watched the live stream of the Olympic competitions. They felt great to see Sun Wenyan and Huang Xuechen have the strength to challenge Russian swimmers and take the silver medal," Wang said.
"I think we may not have to wait for a long time to see the Chinese artistic swimmers stand on the top of the Olympic podium," she noted.