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Olympic host China aims high in Yngling
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China has high expectation in Yngling class for the sailing regatta of the 2008 Beijing Olympics despite fierce challenges from tough opponents.

"There would be an unexpected result for China in the Yngling class on Aug. 16 when the final race takes place," said Yao Xinpei, leader of the Chinese Olympic sailing team.

He said that the Chinese sailing team had focused a lot on Yngling class in the past four years, which is a new class, appearing first in Athens 2004.

"The Chinese Yngling team is in good form now. Most of them have been trained overseas with a lot of experience. Their teamwork is great," he explained.

Only 15 boats compete for Yngling class this time in Qingdao, the venue of the Beijing Olympics sailing tournament.

China has won two silver medals in Olympic sailing, Zhang Xiaodong in 1992 and Yin Jian, also in windsurfing, in 2004, but never takes a single gold.

Yao said,"Among the 18 athletes of the Chinese sailing team, windsurfer Yin Jian from the women's RS:X class and Xu Lijia from the Laser Radial class are also medal favorites."

"Yin Jian is quite experienced with a silver medal in Athens. The light and medium wind in Qingdao is in her favor," Yao said. "Xu has good techniques and sound physical condition."

"In addition, windsurfer Wang Aichen of Men's RS:X class, a rising star in the sailing team, is also hopeful for a medal," he said.

"They work very hard. They are the best sailors of the country," said Ewan Mcewan, technical coach for the Chinese sailing team. "They have the home soil advantages. They know the culture, the city and the food. Most important, they have the support of 1.3 billion Chinese people."

Yao admitted that the Chinese sailors still lagged behind the European and U.S. sailing teams in terms of the understanding of sailing, quality of training and on-spot coaching.

He said among the five countries - China, Britain, France, U.S. and Italy that participated in all 11 classes of the sailing regatta, Britain is the strongest.

"The British team aims to pocket five or six gold medals this time. It is quite possible that they could achieve the target, and even better than that," said Yao, citing its traditional passion in sailing and good system to promote sailing.

The U.S. team is also a strong opponent. "Though sailing is not the main category for the country to catch gold, the team is quite capable, thanks to its long coastline and strong economy," Yao said.

In addition, Australia, Spain and Italy are all among the strong sailing teams in the sailing regatta.

Women and men's RS:X class of New Zealand, Laser Radial class of Belgium and Men's Laser class of Brazil will also pose great challenges for the Chinese team, Yao said.

"Hope we can make a breakthrough, but bottom line, we will do our best," Yao noted.

(Xinhua News Agency August 1, 2008)

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