Jenny Lang cautious about China's title chance at Tokyo Games

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It will be very difficult for the Chinese women's volleyball team to defend its Olympic title at next year's Tokyo Games, but it's not "a mission impossible", according to head coach Jenny Lang Ping.

"Of course it's becoming more and more difficult to win an Olympic gold medal in volleyball, but it's not impossible," Lang Ping, who had started this year's training of the national team from mid February, told Xinhua on Friday. "The result depends on how fast and well our young players can improve."

Following the retirement of four Rio Olympic champions including star setter Wei Qiuyue and former captain Hui Ruoqi, China settled for the third place behind Serbia and Italy in last year's World Championships in Japan, while Lang Ping believed those young players who replaced them had a lot to improve.

"Wei, Hui and Xu Yunli are very good players with a lot of experience at international level, we have to get used to their leaving," Lang Ping added. "The young players are trying really hard, but they still need more time and games to improve their techniques and accumulate experience."

The Legendary coach, who had won the Olympic gold medal both as a player and a head coach, predicted that the title race of the 2020 Tokyo Games would be wide open with European powerhouses Serbia and Italy among strong contenders.

"Teams from Europe have been improving really fast," she said. "They can not only play very strong side attack, but also can play fine quick combinations. They are fast, they can block and they play very good defense. It's hard to beat them. Of course we can not forget Brazil and the Untied States. If they play well, they will also be strong contenders."

The Chinese team has to get its berth to the Tokyo Games in order to defend the title they claimed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Bracketed with Turkey, Germany and the Czech Republic in Pool B of the Olympic qualifying tournament, China need to finish atop to become the early qualifiers.

"The most important event of this year is the Olympic qualifying tournament in August," Lang said. "We are facing three strong teams, Turkey and Germany have improved very quickly, we have to get well prepared."

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