China pin their hopes on fit-again star Hui
A fit-again Hui Ruoqi is set to delight the crowds when the FIVB World Grand Prix Hong Kong leg gets under way at the Coliseum today.
The 20-year-old from Jiangsu, who has been hailed as China's new star spiker as they build up for next year's London Olympics, was forced to miss all three matches in Hong Kong last year due to injury.
'She is always a crowd-puller in Hong Kong because of her skills,' said Marina Tsui Wai-fun of the organisers. 'And her good looks help, too.'
Hui has fully recovered and has played in every tournament for China since the season began in May, though coach Yu Juemin said his charge (pictured) was still working hard to regain her best form.
'It's always a long road for recovery and Hui still needs some more time to regain her full power, but she is a hard-working player and is getting better and better,' Yu said.
China will face the Dominican Republic in their opening match today in group I, which also features Poland and Kazakhstan. 'On paper, it looks like an easy group, but we will not underestimate any opponent,' Yu said. 'Our target is to do well in preparation for next month's Asian championships in Taipei.'
Yu admitted the Chinese team were in a transition period ahead of the Olympics. 'We are not among the world's top teams at the moment as this squad has only been together for several months. We still have a lot of to learn,' he said.
China will join seven top teams after three weeks of preliminary competition for the Grand Prix final in Macau next week.
Group J, which was originally scheduled to be held in Taipei, will also start in Hong Kong today, with the United States, currently third in the 16-team table, taking on Germany and Italy meeting Peru.
Organisers in Taipei said they were too busy preparing for the Asian championships to host the Grand Prix event.