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China's golden 50

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am

ARCHERY

Fang Yuting, 23, Cheng Ming, 26, Xu Jing, 22
Women's team

Major achievement: 2012 Olympic test event silver medal

For millennia, archery has played a pivotal role in Chinese history. Even Confucius was an enthusiast, so it is no surprise China won three medals (one gold) at the Beijing Games. Still, the three members of the London squad are new faces with no Olympic experience. Of the trio, Fang (pictured) and Cheng rank second and fifth in the world, while Xu has broken into the top 20. The South Koreans, who won two of the four golds in Beijing, remain their biggest obstacle, but teams like Taiwan and India are also likely to pose a threat. The key, apart from steady hands, is to be mentally focused and the trio can do worse than to take to heart Confucius' words: 'If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.'

ATHLETICS

Liu Xiang, 29
Men's 110m hurdles

Major achievements: 2011 world championship silver medal, 2007 world champion, 2004 Olympic champion,

'Give me a break!' That's the message Liu and his team have been sending to his legion of fans. The 2004 Athens hero has been struggling with injuries - including the heartbreaking one in 2008 that forced him to withdraw from the Beijing Games - but Liu is back in form, with a time of 12.87 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon in June that would have equalled the world record had it not been wind-assisted. So what will it take for Liu to beat Cuban arch-rival Dayron Robles and American Aries Merritt, who is in the middle of a breakthrough year? A little bit of space. 'I am still under a lot of pressure,' he said. 'There are huge expectations from the fans.'

Li Yanfeng, 33
Women's discus

Major achievement: 2011 world champion

China's first world champion in this event when she won gold at Daegu, South Korea, Li pays tribute to her legendary German coach, Karl-Heinz Steinmetz. Li does not speak German but said: 'We understand each other with gestures and by me looking at the expression on his face.' Her personal best of 67.98 metres makes her a favourite for gold but Germany's Nadine Mueller and Cuba's Yarelys Barrios stand in her way.

BADMINTON

Lin Dan, 28
Men's singles

Major achievements: 2012 Thomas Cup champion, 2011 Sudirman Cup champion, 2011 world champion, 2008 Olympic champion

No shuttler has ever defended the men's singles title in the history of the Olympic Games ... but they might as well give Lin the gold medal now. 'Super Dan' (right) is the overwhelming favourite, especially with Malaysian ace Lee Chong Wei, the world No 2, suffering from an ankle injury and his condition being a 'state 'secret'. Lee is relying on a diet of porridge and hot soup to be fit for London, while Lin can get ready to pop the champagne corks. But he is taking nothing for granted. 'I am going to use every day as an opportunity to prepare and improve,' he said. Lin thrashed Lee in the final four years ago.

Wang Yihan, 24
Women's singles

Major achievements: 2012 Uber Cup champion, 2011 world champion

Wang goes into the Olympics as the world No 1 after resurrecting a career that saw the Chinese squad demand she prove herself after the 2010 Uber Cup defeat to South Korea. She has done that and more by helping China regain the Uber Cup title from the Koreans this year. 'I saw the Uber Cup and thought, 'What if I lose the match again like 2010?' But then it made me more determined to prove that wrong,' said Wang after surviving four match points to score a 14-21, 22-20, 21-13 win over South Korea's Sung Ji-hyun. She will be aided in her London mission now that she is coached by legendary Zhang Ning, the woman who won the title in Beijing and Athens.

Cai Yun, 32, and Fu Haifeng, 31
Men's doubles

Major achievements: 2011, 2010, 2009 world champions, 2008 Olympic silver medallists

Fu and Cai have been the world's leading doubles team since 2004, despite losing to Indonesians Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan in the Beijing final four years ago. The pair is second only to South Korea's Chung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae, who are the reigning doubles world champions.

Yu Yang, 26, and Wang Xiaoli, 23
Women's doubles

Major achievements: 2011 world champions

Since pairing up in September 2010, Yu and Wang have lost only twice, on both occasions to teammates Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei. Their only other defeats have come as a result of injury-related retirements. They will be hoping to turn the tables on Tian and Zhao this time around, but in any case the gold is as good as China's. Also in Yu and Wang's favour is the fact that Zhao will have to concentrate on the mixed doubles with partner Zhang Nan as they try to defend the title they won in Beijing.

BOXING

Zou Shiming, 31
Men's 48kg

Major achievements: 2008 Olympic champion, 2004 Olympic bronze medal

Zou could have cashed in as a pro after his unprecedented success in Beijing as China's first Olympic boxing champion but instead he is living up to his reputation as a 'true patriot'. London will be his final Olympics but the desire to succeed is as great as ever. 'I am a highly ambitious man,' he said. 'All of these Asian, world or Olympic gold medals, whatever China hasn't got, I want!'

Ren Cancan, 24
Women's 51kg

Major achievements: 2012, 2010 and 2008 world champion

Women's boxing joins the Olympic programme for the first time and Ren is being tipped as the fighter to beat. After beating her main rival, Britain's Nicola Adams, for her third world title in May, Ren said: 'This gives me a great confidence boost. The next big thing is the Olympics.'

DIVING

Wu Minxia, 26
Women's 3m springboard

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, 2008 and 2004 Olympic champion in the synchronised 3m springboard

Overshadowed in the past by pin-up Guo Jingjing, Wu is the favourite following the legend's retirement last year. 'I will do my best on every dive,' promised Wu, who also competed in Beijing and Athens as Guo's partner in the synchronised 3m springboard event. However, she has a new enemy within - 21-year-old He Zhi, who has been groomed to be the next Guo.

Qiu Bo, 19
Men's 10m platform

Major achievements: 2012 World Cup champion, 2011 world champion

Is he even human? British rival Tom Daley doesn't believe so, calling Qiu a 'robot from a conveyor belt of Chinese divers'. 'The Chinese guys are maybe doing seven hours of training, and working so hard. But they don't have a life. I do. I'm not constantly thinking about diving,' Daley said. Maybe he should, because there is no other way he's going to get the better of 'Mr Consistent'. 'The biggest challenge is from myself to beat myself. The aim is to win everything,' Qiu said at a World Series meeting in Dubai this year, where China swept all eight titles. 'I enjoy the pressure. That is the pressure that moves me to get stronger and stronger.'

Chen Ruolin, 19
Women's 10m platform

Major achievements: 2008 Beijing Olympic champion, 2011 world champion, 2012 World Cup champion

Chen is the first Chinese to clinch all three major titles, also known as the 'diving grand slam', in the 10-metre platform. After her success in Beijing, her performances dropped off for a while. But she returned to her best form in time for the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, where she won both the individual and synchronised 10m platform titles, followed by her success at this year's World Cup. 'I was defeated by Hu Yadan at the World Cup [last year], and it harmed my confidence,' Chen said after her world championship success. 'The key to my success is consistency.'

He Chong, 25
Men's 3m springboard

Major achievements: 2012 world champion, 2011 World Cup champion, 2008 Olympic champion

Another 'grand slam' diver with his dominance in all three major 3-metre springboard competitions, He is not assured of another Olympic medal. Compatriot Qin Kai and Russians Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov are all serious threats. However He, who is hailed as the 'King of Difficulty' for choosing the hardest routines, said after winning a World Cup event in Moscow in April: 'I am ready for the Olympics. I just need to perfect my techniques.'

Zhang Yanquan, 17, and Cao Yuan, 17 Men's synchronised 10m platform
Major achievements: 2010 and 2012 World Cup champions

They may be young but Cao and Zhang have already shown they will be the pair to beat. At the World Cup meeting in London in February, which doubled up as an Olympic test event, they proved just that by taking the gold medal. And the duo are not humble about their ambitions. 'We won the gold medal two years ago, so it's not a new thing [for us],' Cao said. 'It was a combination of hard work and good luck.'

Wang Hao, 19, and Chen Ruolin, 19
Women's synchronised 10m platform

Major achievements: 2011 world champions, 2012 World Cup champions

The pair will be the favourites, not only because Chen was the 2008 Beijing champion when partnered with Wang Xin, but also because of their consistent performances since they first teamed up in 2010. Chen may have some fitness concerns but the Chinese sports science team have promised she will be in her best condition to defend her two titles (individual and synchronised). Chen was particularly pleased with their showing at this year's World Cup, 'because this competition is a warm-up for the Olympic Games'.

Luo Yutong, 26, and Qin Kai, 26,
Men's synchronised 3m springboard

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, 2012 World Cup champion

Following partner Wang Feng's retirement after winning gold in Beijing, Qin teamed up with Luo. Their first major success came at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games when they had little difficulty showing their superiority. Since 2011, the pair have won numerous international titles, including gold at the world championships in Shanghai, the 2012 World Cup and the 2012 Fina Diving Series in Dubai and Mexico. After the World Cup success in London in February, Luo said: 'I think my partner did better. I was a little nervous.' The pair are also the reigning national champions so nerves should not affect their performance.

He Zi, 21, and Wu Minxia, 26,
Women's synchronised 3m springboard

Major achievements: 2012 World Cup champions, 2011 world champions

Wu is poised to become the second diver from China after the legendary Fu Mingxia to win the gold in three consecutive Olympics when she partners rising star He. It is difficult to find another pair with anything like the quality to challenge the duo.

FENCING

Luo Xiaojuan, 28, Li Na, 31, and Sun Yujie, 20
Women's team epee

Major achievement: 2011 world championship silver medal

This trio has dominated in individual competitions. Luo was the 2010 Asian Games champion in Guangzhou, China's first such success in 20 years, while Li claimed the 2011 world championship gold. The youngest of the team, Sun is ranked world No 1. In the recent World Cup, they finished in the top three. Clearly, their combination makes them overwhelming favourites. The women's team epee was not on the programme in Beijing because of the sport's rotation of events, so these fencers are raring to make up for lost time.

Lei Sheng, 28, Zhu Jun, 28, Zhang Liangliang, 30, and Ma Jianfei, 28
Men's team foil

Major achievements: 2010 and 2011 world champions

Their world championships results speak for themselves. Although their form has dropped slightly this year, each member still ranks in the world's top 40, with Lei the highest at 13 and Ma at 14. They are working hard to regain the form that made them unstoppable in 2010. But coach Wang Haibin warned: 'There are only nine squads in the foil team event. All of them are very competitive. Number one or number seven, there is little difference.'

GYMNASTICS

Zou Kai, 24, Zhang Chenglong, 23, Chen Yibing, 27, Guo Weiyang, and Feng Zhe, 24
Men's team all-around

Major achievements: 2008 Olympic champions, 2011 world champions

Revenge, pride and relief filled the China team four years ago when they grabbed the title they long craved after the humiliating defeat in Athens in 2004. They were led by muscleman and triple Olympic gold medallist Yang Wei, but he retired in 2009 and China has since been looking for another talisman. Coach Huang Yubin has assembled another team with willpower and strength but warned the Japanese, whom they beat by just two points at the 2011 world championships, would be well prepared and a big threat. But that Athens debacle when they finished fifth is never far from their thoughts and keeps their feet on the ground.

Zou Kai, 24
Men's floor and horizontal bar

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic floor and horizontal bar champion

Zou is determined to repeat his two individual gold medals and is hoping legendary Li Ning will be there to present him with the medals. Zou once said his talent was limited but the confident Sichuan native has it in abundance in these disciplines and likes to raise the bar - and degree of difficulty -whenever he reaches a final in the horizontal bar

Chen Yibing, 27
Men's rings

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic champion

Chen is the leader of the team and the ringmaster in his specialist event. The multiple world champion considered retiring after his heroic performance in Beijing, where he dominated his rivals with a performance which was highly acclaimed for its precision and high degree of difficulty. 'This was the highest individual honour for me,' he said. 'I waited a long time.' He is determined to go out in a blaze of glory.

Feng Zhe, 24
Parallel bars

Major achievements: 2010 world champion, 2010 Asian Games champion

Feng missed the opportunity to compete in front of his home crowd four years ago, but he was not discouraged, worked even harder and has established himself as number one in his discipline.

Sui Lu, 20
Balance beam

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, floor exercise silver medal

Sui took her first world championship title in Tokyo last year, having lagged behind her generation of gymnasts, most of whom tasted world championship glory much earlier. Determination and commitment set her apart, after the disappointment of failing to make the team in 2008.

He Kexin, 20
Uneven bars

Major achievements: 2010 Asian Games champion, 2009 world champion, 2008 Olympic champion and women's team champion

She was the angelic face of Beijing 2008 and captured everyone's attention with her victory in a tiebreaker over American favourite Nastia Liukin and questions over her age. She was later declared eligible, along with several of her teammates. At the 2009 world championships in London, He claimed the title with a faultless routine and became one of the few to clinch a gold medal at the World Cup, Olympic Games and world championships - the three 'grand slams'. She also won the Asian Games uneven bars with a record score of 16.425 points in Guangzhou two years ago.

JUDO

Tong Wen, 29
Women's 78kg and over

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic champion

Chinese athletes have been avoiding meat like the plague because of concerns it might contain substances such as clenbuterol, which brought Tong's career to a halt in 2009 after she tested positive at the 2009 world championships, where she won in her heavyweight category. Tong was stripped of her title and banned for two years but that was lifted the following year when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that a doping violation could not be proved. She then won gold in the 2011 world championship. Tong caused a stir by claiming to CAS that Chinese judo officials had badly advised her about her options and about what to say during the doping probe.

Yang Xiuli, 28
Women's 78kg

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic champion

Four years ago, Yang defeated Cuba's Yalennis Castillo in a long and controversial 78kg final when, after five minutes of overtime, the judges gave her the nod. Yang, a shot putter before switching to the mat, suffered a series of injuries in the wake of her triumph and has only recovered her old form in the past year. She once summed up her outlook this way: 'I'm not a clever girl but I work very hard.' Can that simple, focused approach lead to repeat gold?

ROWING

Zhang Xiuyun, 36
Women's single sculls

Major achievement: 1996 Olympic double sculls silver medal

Longevity and wisdom are traits much prized by Chinese society and, in rowing terms, Zhang Xiuyun has plenty of both. The single sculler was a medallist as far back as the 1996 Atlanta Games, claiming a landmark silver in the double sculls. After missing the next two Games she returned for Beijing and came agonisingly close, placing fourth in the single sculls, the country's best Olympic result yet in that discipline. Now she's aiming to go at least one better but feels free of pressure. 'My Olympic dream never ends,' she said recently. 'And I am more mentally mature. Unlike the mentality that I must be the champion in Beijing, I am now enjoying the sport.' Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus looms as her biggest obstacle.

SHOOTING

Pang Wei , 26
Men's 10m air pistol

Major achievements: 2008 Olympic champion, 2006 world champion

On home soil in 2008, China's crack shots took five of the 15 gold medals on offer, making them the top performers ahead of traditional powerhouses the US and the Czech Republic. Following the retirement of the legendary Wang Yifu, champion at the 1992 and 2004 Olympics, Pang ushered in a new generation of marksmen, starting with his success at the 2006 world championships in Zagreb and then glory in Beijing (for which he was paid 2,000,000 yuan by sponsors). His wife, Du Li (also a Beijing Olympics champion), says he always delivers on the big occasions and nothing is bigger than this.

Yi Siling, 23
Women's 10m air rifle

Major achievements: 2010 world champion, 2010 Asian Games champion, 2009 National Games champion

China failed to win the symbolic first gold medal up for grabs in Beijing when Athens heroine Du Li cracked under pressure. But the title can be recaptured by heir apparent Yi, who has emerged through the ranks. Yi has won many hearts because of her looks and many more because of her exploits, which include winning a string of titles over the past three years. She can set the gold standard for the rest of her teammates by bagging the first medal this time round.

Chen Ying, 35
Women's 25m pistol

Major achievements: 2008 Olympic champion, 2006 world champion

Despite becoming a mother, Chen is determined to challenge for her second Olympic gold medal after capturing her first four years ago. After giving birth to her daughter in 2010, Chen announced she was back last year with a third place in the World Cup finals. She triumphed at the 2012 Asian Championships in Doha in January, and showed she was peaking at the right time with victory at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Series event in Munich in May. 'I am working on the technical aspects but also on my physical preparation,' she said.

Guo Wenjun, 28
Women's 10m air pistol

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic champion

Motherhood also agrees with Guo, who brought her four-month-old daughter with her when she took part in the national team selection for London and won all four rounds of competition. Her gold medal in Beijing was the first from China in eight years. She was married to her Shaanxi teammate Du Lei in 2010 and their daughter was born last year. Guo said she was still trying hard to regain her top form.

Zhu Qinan, 27
Men's 10m air rifle

Major Achievements: 2008 Olympic silver medal, 2004 Olympic champion

For Zhu, the Beijing Olympics are something he would prefer to forget. Because of a slow start, the Athens Olympic champion managed only a silver medal, weeping uncontrollably on the podium as the gold went to India's Abhinav Bindra. At the 2010 world championships in Munich, Zhu again suffered another crushing setback, finishing in fourth place. But he thrust himself back into Olympic contention last year, breaking the world record to capture a gold medal in the World Cup finals. Now he seeks redemption.

Du Li, 30
Women's 50m rifle three positions

Major achievements: 2008 Olympic champion, 2006 world champion (10m air rifle), 2004 Olympic champion (10m air rifle)

Du was married to Pang Wei after the 2009 National Games in Shandong and gave birth to their first baby the following year. During her absence, China's record in this event slumped. But since her return last year, the two-time Olympian has injected new life into the team with her outstanding performances. She also has some unfinished business after her disappointment in the 10m air rifle four years ago.

SWIMMING

Sun Yang, 20
Men's 400m freestyle, 1,500m freestyle

Major achievements: 2011 world champion in the 800 metres and 1,500 metres freestyle

Sun always wanted to be the centre of attention as a child - his mother even believing he might have hyperactivity disorder until she learnt that American great Michael Phelps displayed similar patterns in childhood. Now all eyes are on Sun as he ushers in a new dawn in the pool for Chinese men. He has declared: 'The Chinese men are coming.' He owns the best times in the 400m freestyle and broke Australian Grant Hackett's 1,500m world record with a time of 14:34.14 at last year's world championships in Shanghai. Hackett's was the longest standing record in the sport, even withstanding the 'supersuits' of 2009.

Jiao Liuyang , 20
Women's 200m butterfly

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, 2008 Olympic silver medal

Jiao had to settle for silver behind teammate Liu Zige four years ago, even though both broke the world record. Jiao stayed in the shadow of her until last year when she turned the tables at the world championships in Shanghai. She knows how slim the margin can be between triumph and failure, saying recently: 'Those who are in the top eight [finalists] differ very little in ability, so I feel the reason for winning is getting the details right and the reason for losing is getting the details wrong.'

TABLE TENNIS

Zhang Jike, 24
Men's singles

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, world number one

Germany's Timo Boll likens ping pong to 'high-speed chess' and at the moment Zhang is the grandmaster, although still only 24. China have the top five players in the world and it is Zhang who rules the roost. After winning his first world singles title in Rotterdam last year, he ripped off his shirt in a very un-Chineselike celebration. The former sparring partner for Ma Lin now has his moment in the sun. And he's not likely to be easily distracted from his goal. 'I'm here for competition not sightseeing. I'm totally focused on competition,' he said when asked about the Olympic Village.

Ding Ning, 22
Women's singles

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, world number one

Ding has risen from third to first in the world rankings over the past year helped by winning the world title in Rotterdam last year. She showed that was no fluke with a string of consistent performances and proved to the selectors she could lead the Olympic assault, although she needed the injury withdrawal of Guo Yan to make it this time as the team was chosen last year. With Li Xiaoxia as their second singles player, it is hard to see anyone challenging them.

Zhang Jike, 24, Wang Hao, 28, Ma Long, 23
Men's team

Major achievement: 2012 world champions

China are the defending champions and this trio should have little difficulty in holding on to that gold. Wang was the losing finalist in the singles at both the Athens and Beijing Games and his experience is second to none. Ma took the third berth on the team after ousting Beijing champion Ma Lin. Their biggest threat will probably come from Germany, headed by Timo Boll, while Japan and South Korea have outside chances.

Ding Ning, 22, Guo Yue, 23, Li Xiaoxia, 24
Women's team

Major achievement: 2012 world champions

Following the retirement of Zhang Yining after the Beijing Games, China were looking for a key player to lead their team. Zhang, who collected four gold medals in three Olympic Games, was difficult to replace until they found Ding. They failed in the 2010 World Team Championships, losing to Singapore in the final, but they came back strongly this year beating the same opponents 3-0. Although Ding and Li will be making their Olympic debuts, Guo was in the gold-medal winning team four years ago.

TAEKWONDO

Wu Jingyu, 25
Women's Under 49kg

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic champion

For someone so adept at delivering punishing blows with fists and feet, Wu grew up with a surprisingly delicate hobby - painting words on porcelain, learned from her uncle, a porcelain maker. She would hand the finished pieces out as gifts. But such niceties are set aside for the coming competition as Wu goes all out for an Olympic repeat.

TENNIS

Li Na, 30
Women's singles

Major achievement: 2011 French Open champion

Criticised for her performances since her historic triumph at the French Open last year - the latest a second-round exit at Wimbledon in June - Li has vowed to come back to SW19 wearing the Chinese colours with pride. 'This is my last time to play for my country at the Olympics because I'm 30 already and you never know what will happen in four years,' said Li. 'I'm looking forward to seeing Wimbledon without people wearing white. In more than 100 years nothing has changed there so it may be the only time you see this with the colours.' Li, Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie will represent China in both singles and doubles.

TRAMPOLINE

Huang Shanshan, 26
Women's trampoline

Major achievements: 2010 Asian Games champion, 2004 Olympic bronze medal

He Wenna stole hearts and minds when emerging as an unlikely heroine four years ago, but she has been bounced off the team by Huang, a bronze medallist in Athens but a disappointment in Beijing, where she blew it in the qualifying rounds. Huang, known as the Butterfly, has made a strong comeback this year, winning the national championships and the Olympic selection by beating He.

WEIGHTLIFTING

Wang Mingjuan, 27
Women's 48kg

Major achievement: 2010 Asian Games champion

With the shock omission of world champion Tian Yuan, the weight of expectation now falls on the experienced Wang, who will be trying to follow in the footsteps of Chen Xiexia, winner in this category four years ago. Wang rose to prominence 10 years ago when breaking three world records at the world championships and hasn't stopped since. Her task has been made easier after Olympic and world champion Nurcan Taylan of Turkey was banned in June for doping. China won eight of 15 available weightlifting golds in Beijing with no other country taking more than two. For similar domination to unfold this time, lifters like Wang will have to bear the load.

Li Xueying, 22
Women's 58kg

Major achievement: 2011 world championship silver medallist, 2010 Asian Games champion, 2009 world champion

Double Olympic champion Chen Yanqing became a role model for many weightlifters, chief among them Li, who idolised China's first 'strongwoman'. 'I want to be like her, winning a gold medal for China at the London Games,' said Li, who along with teammate Deng Wei has dominated the category on the world stage.

Wu Jingbiao, 23
Men's 56kg

Major Achievements: 2011 world champion, 2010 world champion

Wu outclassed Beijing Olympic champion Long Quingquan to win the ticket with a formidable total of 300kg. Although it is still 5kg short of the world record held by Halil Mutlu of Turkey - the triple Olympic gold medal winner - Wu is a strong gold medal favourite as his major challenger, Valentin Hristov of Azerbaijan, can only lift around 290kg, while another potential winner, Cha Kum-chol of North Korea, has moved to the 62kg category. Wu says one of the things that has helped his rise is that he rarely needs to drop his body weight before a competition.

Zhang Jie, 24
Men's 62kg

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, 2010 Asian Games champion

Zhang is the world record-holder with 326kg, set at the 2008 Asian Championships in Japan. He also won the internal selection with a total 321kg. But the 25-year-old still has his ups and downs and with North Korean Kim Un-guk always a strong challenger, the Fujian native needs to be at his best for a gold medal.

Lin Qingfeng, 23
Men's 69kg

Major achievement: 2011 Asian champion

China has also dominated this category for many years, with Liao Hui winning in Beijing. But Liao failed a drugs test in 2010 and was banned for four years. Despite his young age, Lin now leads the challenge after winning the internal selection with a total lift of 345kg, beating Wu Chao and 2011 world champion Tang Deshang who could only manage 341kg. No rival has lifted 300kg in recent competition, so Lin and Wu have the gold medal at their mercy.

Lu Xiaojun, 28
Men's 77kg

Major achievements: 2011 world champion, world record holder

Lu has been widely regarded as the successor to former Olympic champion Zhan Xugang in this category. Although he lost to up-and-coming Lu Haojie in the internal selection, he is still regarded the top dog thanks to his 378kg world record at the 2009 world championships. But Beijing champion Sa Jae-hyouk of South Korea and Tigran Gevorg Martirosyan of Armenia are serious contenders.

WRESTLING

Wang Jiao, 24
Women's 72kg

Major achievement: 2008 Olympic champion

Four years ago, China unveiled a new weapon in Wang. Despite being a late replacement for compatriot Xu Wang, the former world junior champion went on to win gold by defeating favourite Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria. But injuries have derailed Wang in the past three years and it was not until this year's Asian zone Olympic qualifiers that she proved she was back in gold medal-winning form.

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