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S Korean coach Kim's contract with Chinese women's hockey not renewed
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The Chinese Hockey Association announced Monday that the contract with South Korean legendary coach Kim Chang Back, who led the Chinese women's team to the history-making runners-up at the Beijing Olympics, will not be renewed.

Lei Jun, head of Handball, Hockey, Baseball and Softball Administration Center under China's state General Administration of Sport, made the announcement. "Our contract with Kim expired on Oct. 31, 2008. After discussing with Kim, we made the decision."

On the successor of Kim, Lei said that it will be decided by May 2009 when the national team resumes training.

Kim Chang Back, 53, had been directing the Chinese team for nine years. In December 1999, Kim began his coaching career in China when the team was still underdog in the hockey world. The Chinese team failed to enter the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. In 2000, the team made its debut in the Olympics, settling for fifth place. In 2002, China took the Asian Games champion and ranked third in the most prestigious tournament -- World Cup. The team moved one step further on the Olympic stage in 2004 by finishing fourth. Then Kim reached his career high in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when China sealed a silver medal, also the first-ever hockey Olympic medal for China.

"An Olympic silver is precious as China only developed hockey 32 years ago and has only 400 odd registered athletes," said Lei. "Kim made a great contribution to Chinese and even world hockey."

Kim will attend some workshops held by International Hockey Federation in the following year, noting that he will still give his assistance and support to the Chinese hockey if needed.

After nine years' stay in China, Kim expressed his unwillingness to leave but still reiterated his regret over not taking China to the top podium in the Olympics.

(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2008)

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