Former Olympic gold medallist Zhao Ruirui believes the Chinese women's team could return to their former glory under new coach Lang Ping, a Chinese volleyball legend.
The 52-year-old Lang was appointed national coach for a second time two months ago.
She led China to an Olympic silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games. "Coach Lang's return has made a great promise for the fans," said Zhao, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games and a bronze in Beijing four years later.
"She is not only a top coach but a coach with special charisma. Her passion in volleyball and determination to win games has made her a household legend in China. Indeed, every Chinese player treasures the opportunity of working under her and that's why I am confident the team will make a difference as they are preparing for the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro."
Zhao, 31, said she joined the national team in 1999 and retired three years ago and therefore has never had the chance to work with Lang.
Lang was first appointed national coach in 1995, but left after winning taking the team to silver in Atlanta. She then worked for professional teams in Italy and the United States and eventually was appointed the US women's team coach in 2005. The team won a silver medal at the Beijing Games and Lang returned to China in 2009 to coach club team Guangzhou Evergrande. She joined the national team in April with a reported annual salary of RMB$2 million.
Expectations are high for Lang to pull the Chinese team out of the doldrums. After bagging bronze in Beijing, they failed to reach the semi-finals in London last summer, a result that forced former coach Yu Juemin to resign.
Lang will lead her team at the 2013 World Grand Prix presented by Watsons of which Zhao is the tournament ambassador. They will play against Argentina, Czech Republic and Turkey at the Coliseum in Hung Hom from August 9 to 11.