The star-studded Chinese table tennis team have been mentally and physically ready for any potential challenges from tough rivals at the Beijing Olymipics, a Chinese sports official said Monday.
After a two-day warm-up between Olympic qualifiers and their teammates, Liu Fengyan, director of the Chinese Table Tennis and Badminton Administrative Center, said that all the Olympians have got used to the new rules and new situation.
The table tennis men's and women's doubles are replaced by men's and women's team events at the Beijing Olympics, to be held from Aug. 8-24.
Liu revealed that a special team, including 1988 Olympic gold medalist Chen Jing, is monitoring the psychological condition of the men's squad.
Apart from testing the strength of the Olympic squad, the warm-up matches also encourage young players to challenge the veterans, Liu said. "The players who outlast the Olympians will get the tickets for the table tennis worlds next year."
"Paddlers from other countries and regions, whose abilities can not be neglected, will fight hammer and tongs to mount a gusty challenge against China at the Olympics," Liu said.
Liu played down Chinese people's expectation of a medal sweep, but said the players themselves should have objectives in mind.
Six table tennis players and two substitutes dominating the world rankings will play for China in the Beijing Games.
Spearheading the men's team is world No. 1 Wang Hao, followed by four-time World Cup winner Ma Lin and three-time world champion Wang Liqin.
Zhang Yining, who was crowned in both singles and doubles in Athens will lead the women's team which also includes grand slam winner Wang Nan and new world champion Guo Yue.
Liu praised Wang Hao, who has topped the world ranking for nine straight months, for his stable performance in international competitions.
(Xinhua News Agency July 29, 2008)