Coach Lang Ping eyes Olympic glory as she returns to China team
Former playing great will be trying to turn her ordinary team to world beaters for Rio Games
Newly appointed China women's coach Lang Ping is racing against time to develop her motley crew into a force capable of challenging world heavyweights Brazil, Italy and the United States at the next Olympic Games.
The volleyball legend, who took up one of the most difficult coaching jobs in China three months ago, admitted her charges still had a long way to go before they could return to the world's elite ranks.
"We are in a transition and it will be tough to establish them in the next few years so we can mount a serious challenge at the 2016 Olympics," said Lang, who arrived in Macau yesterday for the annual spectacular, the World Grand Prix series. "The physical aspects of the current players are not too bad, but their defence and receiving power still have plenty of room for improvement."
The Macau leg, according to Lang, will be a good opportunity to test the youngsters. "Our players have just returned from their own provincial teams for the National Games [volleyball finished before the majority of the Games events which will start in Shenyang in September] and lack proper training. I won't give them any specific target other than gaining international exposure," said the coach.
The three-day tournament, kicking off on Friday at the Macau Forum, also features Bulgaria, Cuba and the Netherlands.
Once the leading world power, China's women have been struggling in recent years, qualifying for the London Olympic Games last August only to be ousted by Japan in the quarter-finals. A month later, they were beaten by Thailand at the Asian Championships, costing coach Yue Juemin his job and paving the way for Lang, the national coach from 1995 to 1999, to return in April. Lang led China to a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games and coached the US women to a silver at the 2008 Beijing Games.