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Wangs lead World Championships charge
Latest Updated by 2007-05-09 19:18:39
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Veterans Wang Liqin and Wang Nan will lead an all-star Chinese team to the World Championships in Zagreb later this month.

The world's number two-ranked man and woman, both world and Olympic champions, are among the 24 players named by Liu Fengyan, director of the sport's governing body, for the world championships from May 21-27.

Defending world champion Wang Liqin and four-time World Cup holder Ma Lin have entered the men's singles, doubles and mixed doubles events, while 29-year-old Wang Nan and 18-year-old Guo Yue will be the busiest players on the women's team, each playing three events.

The world's top-rated woman Zhang Yining will play women's singles and doubles events.

The world championships are also one of the Olympic ranking points competitions and Liu said his squad gives everyone a fair chance.

"Every member of the team is standing at the same line right now. Who will compete at the Beijing Games will be determined by performances during the upcoming competitions."

Apart from the worlds, players will fight for as many points as possible during the Asian Championships, World Cup, and ITTF Grand Prix Finals this year.

"The number of tickets to the Olympics is limited and the top 20 players in the nation's men's and women's teams are so close.

"I am sure by adopting competitive methods within the team, veteran players will be pushed to work harder while young players will have the same chance to show their ability. This is the best way to find out who is the best bet for the Olympic team."

To better prepare for one of the most important rehearsals for the Beijing Games, the men's and women's squads have just completed closed-door training in Xiamen and Zhengding respectively.

And according to head coach Liu Guoliang, the signs from the camps were positive.

"I am quite satisfied with the training. The core players are improving technically and tactically. Their performances during the training camps give me a lot confidence ahead of the worlds," he said.

The team's sweep at the worlds two years ago has raised hopes of a repeat, but women's head coach Shi Zhihao attempted to dampen expectations.

"Unlike the last world championships, we've selected a number of new players this time. Many of them competing in a major international event for the first time.

"I cannot be optimistic as some of them have only been paired for a short time."

According to Shi, some of the doubles pairs were only decided after the qualifying competitions last month so it will take time for them to click.

Shi said she is also more concerned about the mental condition of the young players than the menace they face from former China players competing for other countries and regions.

"I think the biggest threat is not from the overseas Chinese. I am more concerned about our players' ability to adapt themselves mentally during the competition."

China's main challenge at the worlds comes from Ryu Seung-min led South Korea and Chinese Taipei, featuring Chiang Peng-lung. Meanwhile Greek Kalinikos Kreanga and Timo Boll of Germany lead the European challenge.

Editor: Donald 

By: Source:China Daily Website
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