Deng confident of Olympic berth
Beijing Olympic gold medallist Deng Linlin believes she can win a place in the China squad for next year's Games in London despite having missed out on the world championships in Tokyo last month.
Deng, a balance beam specialist, is the only national team member who will be competing in the Henderson Land National Individual Championships, which start at Ma On Shan Sports Centre tomorrow.
'I still want to represent China at the London Olympic Games,' the 19-year-old said yesterday. 'It's too early to think about retirement and my plan is to compete at least until 2013, when the next the National Games are held in Liaoning province.'
Deng was not included in the China team who finished third in the women's team all-round at the world championships last month.
'Compared to other countries, we are strong in the balance beam because of our choice of manoeuvres. But of course teams like the United States and Russia are always a great threat and it's never going to be easy at the Olympics,' she said.
The Chinese women finished behind the US and Russia in Tokyo. Sui Lu was the only mainland woman to win an individual gold, in the balance beam. The men's team won the all-around team gold, while in the individual competition, Zou Kai won the horizontal bar and Chen Yibing the rings event.
Many of the gold medallists were expected to compete in Hong Kong - which is hosting the national championships for the first time - but were instead sent to a winter training camp.
'We are sorry about the last-minute change to gymnasts competing in Hong Kong,' said Cheung Siu-yin, the head of the Gymnastics Association of Hong Kong. 'But the London Games is the national team's top priority. However, Chen, Sui and two other national team members, Xiao Qin and Yang Yilin, will be here at the weekend as a gesture of support and will meet fans in the city.'
More than 160 athletes from 21 provincial teams, including the People's Liberation Army and Hong Kong, will take part in the four-day event, with the finals set for Saturday and Sunday.
The 12-member Hong Kong team will be led by Shek Wai-hung, who reached the men's vault final at the world championships; Angel Wong Hiu-ying, a bronze medallist at this summer's World University Games in Shenzhen; and Ng Kiu-chung, who won a bronze medal in the men's rings at the Doha leg of the World Cup series last year.