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Japanese Coach Heads Chinese Swim Team
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Japan's "god mother" in synchronized swimming is scheduled to sign a contract in Beijing today to lead the Chinese team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Masayo Imura's contract will run until the conclusion of the games in September 2008, Yu Li, a senior official with China's General Administration of Sports, said on Friday.

"With Imura joining our team, we can expect to pick up some medals in synchronized swimming during the Games," Yu said.

Imura, who has guided Japan's synchronized swimmers for the past 30 years, has helped the Japanese team win three gold, one silver and four bronze medals in Asian and Olympic Games.

The 56-year-old woman coach is scheduled to take part in the world championships next spring for her first appearance in a major international meet with the Chinese national team.

"I believe Japan's international profile and leadership in the sport will improve if a person from the country coaches the national team of an Olympic host," Imura has been reported as saying.

The news was reported only days after China handed Japan, which had been the dominant power in Asian synchronized swimming, defeats in both the duet and team events at recently concluded the Doha Asian Games.

China's swimming sports management had showed a willingness to invite Imura to coach the Chinese team before the Doha Asian Games, Yu said.

(China Daily December 26, 2006)

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