Basketball star Yao Ming says he's on schedule to play in the Beijing Olympic Games. The NBA center has returned to China to wrap up his recovery, and bring new hope to earthquake victims in Sichan province.This was Yao's first meeting with reporters after returning to China for the Olympic Games. He talked about his foundation to help earthquake victims in Sichuan. Yaofoundation.com will raise money to rebuild schools and improve lives in the disaster region over the next three to five years.
Yao Ming said "The Sichuan earthquake has greatly touched us, which made it more important to start the foundation before the Olympic games. We are ready to provide as much relief funding as we can to the earthquake zone over the long term. Our foundation focuses on the reconstruction of schools, which have been demolished during the quake."
Yao is one of Reebok's top athletic spokesmen. The company is launching a new shoe, and five shoes autographed by Yao will be auctioned off to raise money for his foundation.
Regarding his condition, Yao says he's 80 percent healed from the foot injury that knocked him out of the NBA season in Houston, and which threatened his participation in the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Yao Ming said "I have done whatever I can to recover. I need to get back into basketball playing shape by playing in games. The shape can not be retrieved even in 5-on-5 training. Playing in games is the only way. Before the Olympic Games, I still have some time to play in some warmup contests with the national team. Those games will lay the foundation for my eventual conditioning."
While Yao's been recovering in the US, his Olympic teammates have been playing and winning without him. The Chinese national team, featuring NBA rookie Yi Jianlian, has rattled-off eight straight victories against international competition, including one against a highly regarded side from Lithuania.
Yao will have trainers watching his continued recovery in China. He'll follow a conditioning schedule that will gradually ease him back into basketball shape.
(CCTV June 27, 2008)