China great Lang advises women's coach to 'relax'
Take it easy. That is the message from legendary Chinese coach Lang Ping to her successor, Wang Baoquan, as the mainlanders begin their campaign today in the Hong Kong leg of the FIVB World Grand Prix series.
Still smarting from a two-loss performance in the previous leg in Macau last week, China's women will meet Thailand at Hong Kong Coliseum in their opening match while the US take on Germany earlier.
'We met up this morning and I told him to relax and that he shouldn't give himself too much pressure,' said Lang, who is in town for a volleyball seminar. 'Expectations of the China team are always high and the coach must know how to cope with this.'
Wang, who took up the job in March, said in Macau that there was too much pressure on his team when they were beaten by the Dominican Republic. He said he could not risk trying out many new players because China 'could not afford to lose' and when two of his regular players were forced to miss the match against the Latin Americans, the inexperienced reserves floundered.
'He (Wang) has to give opportunities to more players so that he can produce a team where all the players are good enough to take to the court,' Lang said. 'Otherwise, how would he cope with an injury crisis at, say, the Olympic Games?'
As a player, Lang won the Olympic gold medal for China at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. She was later appointed national team coach and led China to a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics. Before she quit one of the toughest coaching jobs in China in 1998, Wang worked as her assistant. Lang became the head coach for the US in 2005 and led them to a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics. China, managed by another of Lang's former assistants, had to settle for a bronze.
Lang is now the Guangzhou team head coach and has no intention of returning to the national team. 'I am too old for the job, and club volleyball suits me better,' the 49-year-old said.
The World Grand Prix qualifiers will wind up this week with competitions in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Taipei. The top five teams out of the 12 will play alongside hosts China in the finals to be held in Ningbo next week.
The US, currently fifth in the table, and Germany, who are eighth, still have chances to qualify for the finals.