Women's volleyball team embraces London with confidence

Updated: 2012-07-23 10:38


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LONDON - Chinese women's volleyball team has restored confidence as the key players are recovering from injuries.

The team, once champion in 2004 Athens Games and bronze medal winner in Beijing Games, arrived in London on Sunday afternoon following an intensive four-week training at a training base in East China.

Women's volleyball team embraces London with confidence

Yu Juemin, head coach of Chinese women's Olympic volleyball team, demonstrates skills at a training class in this June 24, file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]

"It's a great honor for me, as the head coach of the team, to participate in the Olympic Games, but I have felt great pressures as well," said Yu Juemin, who used to be the coach assistant of the team for more than 10 years, and took the helm in 2010.

"It's my first time to come to London. I used to watch others play for the Olympic Games on TV, and now, It's my turn. It's just like a dream," said wing spiker Hui Ruoqi.

The women's volleyball has been in an especially important status in Chinese sports since the team's five consecutive victories in top world tournaments in the 1980s. Led by "Iron Hammer" Lang Ping, they conquered the Los Angeles Olympic Games, two World Championships and two World Cups between 1981 and 1986, along with China's rise in the world sport.

China repeated the glory in Athens following some low tide years but slipped to a new low after the Beijing Games. Besides its star spiker Wang Yimei, who had her right ankle ligament damaged in a training session in April, China's first-string players, including setter Wei Qiuyue, libero Zhang Xian, opposite hitter Zeng Chunlei, all have injuries.

As a result, the team finished a disappointing 5th in the Grand Prix Finals in June and they set the goal to enter the quarterfinals in London.

After four weeks of preparations for the London Games, however, Yu seems much relieved from the worry of "no player to play".

"Now, I must say the team is in a much better shape than in they were in the Grand Prix Finals, either on their stamina or in their injury control," said Yu.

"The girls showed great enthusiasm at the last stage training for the Games," he said.

On Wang's injury, Yu said, she has finished most training sessions with teammates, but still needed time to get back to the top.

At the Airport lounge, Wang, 24, stood all the time as her teammates were seated, waiting for the shuttle bus back to the athlete village.

"It's better for me to stand, because then my foot feel better," said Wang. "Generally speaking, my foot is good, and I will go all out at the Games," she said.

China will play in the same pool in London along with defending champion Brazil, world's No 1 US, Serbia, Turkey and South Korea. Italy, Russia, Japan, Algeria, the Dominican Republic and hosts Britain make up the other six-team pool.

The top four teams to emerge out of each pool will play the quarterfinals. China will play the first game against Sebia at Earls Court on July 28.

As planned, China will have a training match with hosts Britain on Tuesday afternoon.