Zhang in doubt for Olympic defence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2008, 12:00am

The chances of Zhang Ning defending her Olympic singles title are 'up in the air', according to China's national team coach.

The remarks came after Li Yongbo's decision to drop the injury-troubled Zhang, 33, from the mainland's squad for the Uber Cup next week in Indonesia.

Zhang has been dogged by a crippling knee injury in the past few months and her training regime has been disrupted in the crucial stages of her attempt to earn an Olympic berth.

'Everyone except Zhang has come a long way in the national team's latest training camp in Jinjiang [Fujian province],' Li told China Sports Daily, the newspaper of sports ministry, referring to a just-concluded, 50-day camp in the coastal province.

'We still have time to decide our line-up for the Games. As for Zhang Ning's chances to make it, I would only say she remains an option.'

Defending world champion Zhu Lin and Xie Xinfang are China's top hopes in the women's singles, which the country has won at the past two Games.

But they are both going through slumps, with Xie making a quick exit in the opening round of the prestigious All-England championships and Zhu following her out in the second round.