In the interest of balance, the Chinese team could have used some
Yin at the Winter Goodwill Games last week. China brought the
world's two best female short-track speed skaters to Lake Placid,
N.Y.: Yang Yang and Yang Yang. No, they're not related. Yang Yang
(A), as the 23-year old from Harin is known in skating circles,
won golds in the 1,000 meters and 3,000-meter relay.
Twenty-two-year old Yang Yang (S) (below right, consoling A),
from Jilin, came to Lake Placid as an alternate because her
coaches felt she'd been overracing.
Their names, though pronounced the same, are written differently
in Chinese and translate differently into English. A's means
Flying Flag; S's means Sunshine. Several years ago international
officials asked the Chinese coaches to come up with a way to help
Westerners distinguish between the two. The coaches decided to
call them (L) for large and (S) for small, though the Yangs are,
in fact, about the same size. The older Yang said she liked
neither the large designation nor the coaches' other suggestion
of (O) for older. She chose (A) as an inoffensive alternative.
The younger Yang stayed with (S). Clear?
The Yangs, who between them won all five short track races at the
world championships last March, enjoy having a little fun with
their names. When national team members went to a Beijing
doctor's office last month for medical checkups, the Yangs walked
into the examining room together when their name was called. "The
nurse was so confused," Yang Yang (S) told an interpreter last
week through muffled laughter. "It was she who needed a doctor."