Chinese facing golden pressure
The Chinese team are under pressure from the State Sports Committee to win a gold medal at this summer's Atlanta Olympics.
The committee has identified table tennis, diving, shooting and gymnastics as the main sports capable of yielding gold medals.
But national Table Tennis Association vice-president Zhang Xielin said at the national team training centre yesterday that it would be very difficult for China to repeat their effort of winning three gold medals out of four events at the last Olympic Games in Barcelona.
'We won gold medals in men's doubles, women's singles and women's doubles in the Barcelona Olympics four years ago. That is why table tennis is being highlighted by the China National Sports Committee,' said Zhang who is the former women's team head coach.
Zhang reckons the North Koreans, returning to the Olympics this year, will be very dangerous opponents for the mainland Chinese.
'The North Koreans have not participated in international events for a long time. We have no idea how they will play but they were strong when we last played them.' Zhang said China would be a top target for most of the other countries.
'Our results in the past few years have been outstanding. Most of the other countries have been studying our players for a long time. This will make it more difficult to get good results,' said Zhang.
The top players from China - world number one Kong Linghui (men), Deng Yaping (women), world number two Wang Tao (men) and Qiao Hong (women) have automatically qualified for the Atlanta Olympics.