Zhou keeps Beijing hopes alive despite tough times
These days are especially tough for China captain Zhou Suhong who has decided to continue training and competing for her country while her husband remains paralysed after a shocking injury two months ago.
The 28-year-old Zhou has remained on the national squad knowing that husband Tang Miao may never walk again after seriously injuring his neck during training in St Petersburg, Russia, on June 15.
Tang, a volleyball player with the Shanghai team, injured himself when he lost his balance while warming up with a teammate. He hit his head heavily on the floor, and was rushed unconscious to hospital.
Doctors in St Petersburg feared the Chinese player would be paralysed for the rest of his life because the 25-year-old did not have feeling below his knees. However, he has since regained some movement in his arms.
The incident has shocked the nation and presented a terrible blow to Zhou as she prepares for next year's Olympic Games, in which China are defending champions.
But Zhou remained upbeat and still managed a smile while speaking about the incident that has left her and her husband with an uncertain future.
She said she must put on a brave face and continue playing, hoping for the day she receives news that her husband has made a miraculous recovery. The day may never come but Zhou still remained hopeful Tang would walk again.
'Before I left to play in this World Grand Prix, my heart felt it was ripped apart,' said Zhou, who is deputising for injured regular captain Feng Kun in the Hong Kong leg of the FIVB World Grand Prix, 'But since the accident, I have to face the reality. I remain optimistic that things will get better. I am praying that it does,' she said.
Zhou said Tang has regained some movement in his arms and is conscious, lucid and slowly showing signs of recovery.
'Only the doctors know whether there is still hope of him walking again. An injury like his takes a lot of time to recover but I am convinced he is under the best care in the country,' said Zhou, one of the world's best players who played a pivotal role in her country's gold medal exploits in Athens three years ago.
'No matter how hard or terrible the incident is, I still have to compete and prepare for the Olympic Games. Things happen but I still have to be brave,' she said. 'I will return to Shanghai to see him again and hopefully I will be given more good news.'
Tang became a member of the China national team in 2002 before he began playing regularly for his country a year later.
He represented his country at the 2004 Olympic qualification tournaments as well as the world championships. He is also a key member of the Shanghai team, the national champions for four years running.
The world volleyball body, FIVB, has wished him a speedy recovery.