'I would never have had the chance had I stayed in China,' says Han The first thing Olympian Han Yueshuang wanted to say before departing for the Turin games was 'thank you, Hong Kong'. 'Participating in the Olympic Games is the dream of every athlete and I would never have had the chance had I stayed in China,' said the short-track speedskater, who left for the games last night as the only Hong Kong representative. Han, 24, qualified for three events in the women's short-track event in Turin, - the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m - with the good results she achieved at the World Cup series in Italy and the Netherlands last year. She currently ranks 12th in the World Cup standings. But she had no idea that she would participate in the Olympic Games one day when she first came to Hong Kong in 2002. 'I had already dropped out of the sport to study for four years and I had never represented the Chinese national team so the chance of taking part in an Olympic Games seemed remote. 'I owe thanks to Hong Kong, which gave me a second chance, and I am really happy that I have made it,' said Han, who returned to the territory on Monday after spending a tough 11/2-month training stint in her home town of Changchun as her final preparation for the games. 'My form is quite fine after the training spell in China, but it is still a remote chance for me to win a medal as the opposition is strong. Some of the Chinese medal hopefuls have already been in Turin since January for acclimatisation. We cannot do that here in Hong Kong as we lack the resources.' However, Han said she had no worries about the cold weather in Turin even as reports said that an emergency supply of 180 duvets had been sent to the Chinese delegation because the hotel bedding was not thick enough to counter the freezing temperatures. 'Winter in Changchun has always been below minus 20 degrees Celsius and I can cope with it. It should fine for me,' she said. Trained at the amateur sports school in Changchun since the age of 10 and a member of the Jilin provincial team, Han had virtually quit the sport when she was admitted to the Northeast Normal University in Changchun. 'I took four years off from speedskating when I studied for a sports degree in the teacher training university. After graduation, when I was about to start my career as a teacher, I got a call from my current coach who invited me to come to Hong Kong to continue my sporting career. 'I thought about it for a while and decided this should be the way to go forward as I still love the sport very much.' Things were not easy when she first came to Hong Kong where there are no formal training facilities for the sport other than commercial skating rinks. So Han had to return to China often for training. She also needed to find a place for weight and fitness training to improve her physique and eventually settled on using a private gymnasium in Hong Kong. But the young skater overcame all these difficulties before she eventually realised her childhood dream by qualifying for the Turin Games. Hong Kong team coach Lu Shuo, who trained Han when she was a junior athlete, said she was a very determined athlete. 'She can do it if she really wants to and that's why I invited her to Hong Kong to continue her career. I am really happy that she can take part in the Olympic Games,' said Lu, who also lived in Changchun before moving to Hong Kong. 'I would also like to thank my coach not only because he invited me to Hong Kong but also for his effort in helping me to rebuild my career,' said Han.