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Hong Kong paddlers to seek Olympic medal in team events
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Table tennis players of Hong Kong have an eye on podium finish at the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

"We are under heavy expectation from the Hong Kong citizens, especially in the men's and women's team events," head coach Hui Jun, who named a squad of established paddlers including the Athens Olympic men's doubles silver medalists Li Ching and Ko Lai Chak, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The Hong Kong team, half of which are former members of the formidable national team of China, will send Beijing the 29-year-old Tie Yana, the 27-year-old Lau Sui Fei, and the 29-year-old Lin Ling, all three of whom had ever served in provincial teams of China

Cheung Yuk, the only Hong Kong-born paddler who partnered Tie to win the mixed doubles title in the Busan Asian Games six years ago, will join Li, 33, and Ko, 32, in the table tennis competitions of the Beijing Olympics, which run from August 13 to 23.

"The coaching staff are trying to make different partnerships between the players, since the newly introduced Olympic competitive format of team events favors teams with flexible squad," said Hui.

According to the Olympic rules, in both the men's and the women's events, the team competitions play a best-of-five format with the third game having to be a doubles and each player can only attend a maximum of two games in a match.

"It's a tough challenge for all the participants and the tactics used in the team match will present even more importance," said Hui. "And what we're doing now is to prepare for full-set matches in the team events."

The men's doubles event had long been seen a break point for the Hong Kong team in the world-class competitions, as Li Ching and Ko Lai Chak grabbed the gold medal in the 2006 Doha Asiad after beating the Athens Olympic gold medal winning pair of Ma Lin/Chen Qi from China.

"I just want to win a medal in the Beijing Olympics and I don't care if it's gold," said Li, who rated the podium-finish chance of Hong Kong in the men's team event as 50-50, adding that his counterparts in the women's team have an even better prospect.

The Hong Kong paddlers are now out of injury worries and are in good sharpness, according to a team staff.

(Xinhua News Agency July 29, 2008)

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