With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics less than 15 months away, two-time world champion pair figure skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong face a race against time to compete as Han recovers from hip surgery.

2020 has been a difficult year for all, but also marked the 14th year of their partnership. Sui and Han have been through the ups and downs in life, glories and defeats on ice. Their career has been a rollercoaster, struggling with health issues. As a result, Sui and Han have learned to live with injuries and rehabilitations, and have surprised the world as comeback kids.

Talking about injuries, Sui became serious. “We both know that we are not born skaters. We are not tall enough and our height difference is not big enough. But our hard work paid off. And it’s normal that injuries come with practice,” said the 25-year-old. “It gave us enormous satisfaction every time we achieved something and went one step further. It’s all about experience.”

In 2015, Sui had ankle surgery on both feet, meaning that she had to learn to walk again before she could even think about skating. “I didn’t even know if I could walk again,” Sui said.

Fortunately, Sui fully recovered one year later. Performing to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, Sui and Han won the pairs gold medal at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships for the first time, ending China’s seven-year wait for another title.

The joy didn’t last long. After winning silver at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Sui underwent another surgery on her right foot and had to sit out over half the season. Nobody expected that Sui and Han would come back as world champions yet again at the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships.

With the World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada canceled due to COVID-19, Han returned to China to have hip joint surgery in April. Despite a speedy recovery, Han still couldn’t make it to the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Cup of China this November.

“I went to visit him shortly after his surgery and found that he was already able to walk with a crutch. It was way better than I expected so I’m not that worried,” Sui smiled.

Han was even more optimistic. “My injury was not that bad and I’m pretty confident about it. I will take my time to make a full recovery.”

“I’ve learned a lot from my injuries in the past years,” added Han. “It’s not always a bad thing. You have to face it without fear and just deal with it. It would all add up to something significant in my future career.”

With Han undergoing rehabilitation, Sui has had to find new practise partners to stay fit – just as Han did when Sui was injured. “My first practise partner was my coach Zhao Hongbo,” said Sui cheerfully. “With different partners, I came to know what advantages to keep on top and what to improve next. The only thing I can do without my partner is to enhance my own skills.”

With not much time left before the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sui and Han remain quite confident. “The most important thing for me is to get rid of injury first and gravity next. Higher and further is our goal,” said Sui. “We need to improve the quality of our moves. What matters more though is to stay away from injuries to make it to the Olympics.”

Sui is younger and more outgoing, while Han is more mature. With 14 years of practising and competing together, Sui and Han are more than just partners and friends, but rather family with mutual trust and tacit understanding.

“It really helps our performance on the ice and let us strive for a shared goal,” said Sui. Enditem

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