‘Super coach’ Lang Ping to return to China women’s volleyball squad earlier than expected after dismal World Grand Prix results

The iconic 56-year-old former player, dubbed the “Hammer” in her playing days, will be back as coach in September for the Grand Champions Cup in Japan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 8:56pm

China “super coach” Jenny Lang Ping has answered an SOS call to return to the national women’s volleyball squad earlier than expected to help “steady the ship” after a series of shocking disappointments in the FIVB World Grand Prix finals.

Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games champions China were using the World Grand Prix finals in Nanjing last week to see where they stood against the rest of the world and at the end of the five-day tournament, the mainlanders failed even to finish on the podium as hosts.

The mainlanders finished fourth behind 12-time winners Brazil, with Italy and Serbia finishing second and third.

Lang, the only person, male or female, to have won gold at the Olympics both as a player in 1984 and as a coach in 2016, has been recuperating in the United States after hip surgery.

But she should feel well enough to rejoin the team at the women’s Grand Champions Cup in Japan next month, according to reports.

Dubbed the “Hammer” in her playing days, Lang is head of development of volleyball in China but the iconic coach has not appeared with the team for months, leaving her duties to acting coach, An Jiajie, after undergoing surgery for a hip problem.

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Lang would have been appalled by China’s recent displays in Nanjing, where the mainlanders were outclassed by Serbia and Italy, losing to both teams by 3-1 margins.

The 56-year-old Pang, one of the highest-paid coaches in the world in any sport, was likely to return to the team before the Japan tournament starts on September 5 in Tokyo and Nagoya.

China will play the US and Brazil in Tokyo before travelling to Nagoya to face South Korea and Japan in the round-robin tournament.

According to reports on the mainland, China experienced a lot of “fluctuations” on the team and failed to show much consistency, having to rely too much on star outside spiker Zhu Ting.

Zhu is a doubt for the Japan tournament as she nurses a wrist injury suffered during China’s game against Serbia in Nanjing.

But China received some positive news with Rio Olympic star Hui Ruoqi returning to the side from injury and rejoining the squad in Japan.

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Hui said coach Pang was “very likely” to return to the team next month.

“She had hip problems and underwent surgery in America but will return to the team soon to lead the team. We are looking forward to her return,” said the outside hitter, who was captain of the China team when they won gold in Rio.