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Chinese divers beware of mental stress towards 2008 Olympics
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Stepping down from the champion podium, a Chinese women diver is cheered by her elated parents and surrounded by her ecstatic friends, relatives and team officials from her home town.

All the lips produce one sound: "You are the Olympic Games champion!"

It might be a daily scene one year later at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The girl, or boy diver, can be anyone from the Chinese diving team, tipped as the Dream Team, which collected 20 Olympic gold medals from the previous appearance at the Games since 1984.

However, what the Chinese diving team leader, Zhou Jihong worried about is whether her divers can overcome the greatest ever mental stress as being a host of the Olympic Games.

Zhou Jihong, women's 10 meters platform champion at the 1984 Olympic Games, admitted that mental stress may be the fatal factor for the Chinese divers as one of the home disadvantage.

During the National Championships, served as one of the Olympic Games trials, Zhou said here on Saturday: "Being a host does not necessary go with more advantages and titles. It can be disadvantages, especially to the events like diving, shooting and gymnastics. "

According to a survey conducted by the Chinese shooting team recently, all the host teams suffered a slump on their home turf during the previous Olympic Games.

"Even a phone call, a chat from the family members before the event takes place, athletes may loss their concentration and feel overloaded pressure. It may force them to have unstable performance," Zhou said.

Zhou pointed out that both veterans and inexperienced rookies have the same mental stress problem.

"Olympic Games is different from other big world meets, and it is being held in China. The pressure is everywhere. I can't prevent my athletes from the reality, what I can do is to help them improve their minds much stronger and tougher."

Several psychologists had worked with the diving team dated back to 2004 before the Athens Olympic Games. Recently, YOGA class has been added to the divers every Sunday morning.

"There are many ways to help divers improve their mental stability and consistency during daily life. I hope they can put the stress aside and perform their best in front of home crowd at the Beijing Olympic Games," Zhou said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2007)

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