Badminton: More Than One Gold

Chinese badminton players have formed a line-up they hope will bring them more than one gold from the September Sydney Olympic Games.

China's team is stronger now than during the Atlanta Olympics four years ago, when the Chinese delegation won a gold in the women's doubles.

So it is natural to expect more golds, said Li Yongbo, head coach of the Chinese Badminton Team.

The squad is in a transition, Li said, but both old and new players are getting better.

Li said the number of golds is not the sole criterion for China to show improvement.

"I hope to see more than two golds brought home this time, but it is more important for all our shuttlers to do their best at the gala,'' Li said.

This time badminton authorities plan to send Ye Zhaoying, Gong Zhichao and Dai Yun to the women's singles, Xia Xuanze, Ji Xinpeng and Sun Jun to the men's singles, and Ge Fei/Gu Jun, Yang Wei/Huang Nanyan, and Qin Yiyuan/ Gao Jie to the women's doubles. The hope: at least two golds.

Mixed doubles pair Liu Yong and Ge Fei might give China its third gold medal. Putting obstacles on the road to victory will be England's Simon Archer and Janne Goode and Kim Ding-Moon and Ra Kyung-Min of South Korea.

Liu and Ge will be reinforced by Zhang Jun and Gao Ling plus Chen Jiqiu and Chen Lin.

Zhang Jun and Zhang Wei along with Yu Jinghao and Chen Qiqiu will represent China in the men's doubles.

In an interview with CCTV, Xia said China aims for two golds in women's singles and doubles and will try for another in the men's singles.

Asked later by Li whether he was confident in grabbing the third gold in the men's singles, the All-England champion responded: "Yes, I am confident in myself.''

Xia, 21, became a rising star after being crowned at the All-England Championships and the Switzerland Open last March.

He beat world champion Sun Jun by winning two straight sets at a pre-Olympics warmup on August 5.

But Li admitted that most players are immature for the Olympics.

Li also warned that strength does not equal success.

"Though our women's singles player are superior in strength, they often crashed in important international games, such as in Ye's loss to Kanako Yonekura of Japan at the 1998 Asian Games,'' Li said. "So we must keep on full alert to all the potential opponents.''

(China Daily)

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