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Long way for Chinese archers to win Olympic gold
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Mounting pressure looms on for Chinese archers to touch the first ever Olympic title after four-time runners-up over the years.


China's archery chief Zhou Yuan does not expect too much from the Beijing Olympic Games with less than 300 days left for the sports gala to open up.


"It's a great hurdle to leap over on the road to an Olympic gold medal," said Zhou on Friday at the Chinese City Games, " Although we have the courage and confidence to compete the best, we have to admit that South Korea is much stronger."


"To South Korea, the archery is like table tennis to Chinese. They are dominant by large and unmatched worldwide. Most of the world records are handed down from South Koreans and Chinese archers always lose in key matches.


"We lost to South Korea by only one point in women's team at the Athens Olympics, and in Doha Asian Games last year, we were the victims again," added Zhou.


"In Athens, I don't think the one-point gap reflected the real strength of South Korea. They underperformed and we in contrast outperformed, so it came the slim difference."


The situation remained the same at the Beijing Olympic trial in August and then in Asian Archery Championships.


In the Olympic try-out, South Korea wrapped up all four disciplines from individual to team, leaving only the second places for other shooters worldwide to strive after. China's best result came from Zhang Juanjuan, who was the only one to reach top eight.


One month later, China clinched the second and third places in women's individual at the Asian Championships. China's Guo Dan lost to Lee Sung-jin of South Korea in women's individual final. The result seemed to a better one for China, but you won't think so with the knowledge that South Korea dispatched a second-class squad there.


According to Zhou, there is a big gap to bridge between China and South Korea. "South Koreans master better skill than us. And Chinese archers' physical conditions are not that good in endurance."


"We take much more time to train everyday, but the frequency of shooting is much less than that by South Korean."


"We have no more than ten top archers in China, but in South Korea the number is larger than 70. You can imagine their overall strength."


Lin In Taek came from South Korea and now is coaching the Harbin team.


"The Chinese archers are not training as hard as their South Korean counterpart. I would prefer the word 'indolence' to define their training. They don't know that an athlete should take initiative if they want to be superior in international competition."


China sets promising perspective for the sport. It's to shoot for a gold medal for women team and a medal for men's, but the task by now appears formidable.


Seven archers from the Chinese national team in the City Games failed to sound up after first day's preliminaries here, with nobody even advancing into last eight.


(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2007)

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