Asian Games 2018: Losing weight helps China’s volleyball women focus on reclaiming gold
The players act on a demand by coach Lang Ping to shed the kilos during a training stint in Ningbo
Chinese volleyball player Zhang Changning slapped her abdomen and declared proudly “there is no fat”. The 22-year-old Zhang revealed at the airport on her way to Jakarta that she had lost 3.6 kilograms (eight pounds) in four weeks, one of many players on her team who have followed coach Lang Ping’s instructions to shed the kilos.
China are looking to reclaim the Asian Games women’s volleyball gold medal, having had to settle for silver behind South Korea at the 2014 Incheon Games.
The squad trained in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, in preparation for the Jakarta Games and the players are feeling fit and slim in their bid for an eighth gold medal.
Coach Lang Ping told mainland media she was proud of her squad’s achievements in getting fitter for the Games. “I think they are thin,” she said.
Along with star player Zhu Ting, Zhang will play a major role in China’s attack as they take on defending champions South Korea, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and India in pool B of the preliminary round.
The volleyball competition runs from August 19 to September 1 with China opening their campaign against Vietnam on Sunday.
Middle blocker Hu Mingyuan lost 4.5 kilos in the first two weeks of training, while Li Yingying, who won the MVP award at the recent Nations League, has lost 6.3 kilos.
China won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, returning to world supremacy after 12 years. But they failed to live up to expectations at the Nations League, finishing ninth in the standings, with the United States winning the tournament ahead of Serbia and Brazil.
However, significantly, China finished one place ahead of Japan and three ahead of South Korea – their two main rivals in Jakarta.
Hong Kong are in pool A and face Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines. The top four from each group advance to the quarter-finals, which means Hong Kong may only need to win one match in the group stage to reach the play-offs.