Women´s volleyball team gears up for Athens Olympics 07-26-2004 15:39

Chinese women's volley team, as soon as they regained the world champions title in November 2003, the team was already looking to the biggest event: the Olympics. Shortly after the Chinese New Year, they gathered together for intensive training in preparation for the Athens Olympics.

Last year marked a turning point for Chinese volleyball. China took its first volleyball World Cup title in 17 years after beating Japan 3-0 to finish the 2003 women's tournament with a perfect record. Now with the Olympics just months away, the Chinese women's volleyball team is looking to relive the glory in Athens.

The first five days of training after the Spring Festival was mainly focused on physical training without the ball. After completely regaining their physical fitness, the players held their first practice with the ball. Head coach Chen Zhonghe did not put too much intensity into the session.

Star player Zhao Ruirui's knee injury has been a major source of concern for the country's volleyball fans. She underwent surgery after the World Cup, but felt positive about making a full recovery.

Zhao Ruirui said, "It is still recovering, and it bothers me a little bit in practice. But I try not to think about it. It will be all right."

The players were divided into several teams and competed against each other. Despite some lighter moments, the players took the matches very seriously. In the afternoon, the players had a more quiet physical training session to end the day. Head coach Chen Zhonghe was happy with the first day of practice with the ball.

Chen Zhonghe said, "We just played some games today to help them relax and regain their feel for the ball. I want to give them some time to completely adjust physically before any intensive training."

With the way they are training now, these volleyball players will hopefully build on the success of their World Cup campaign and carry the momentum into the Olympics.

The Chinese women's volleyball team are going all-out in training to reclaim the Olympic gold in Athens after China won it 2 decades ago. They're now contending for entry into the finals of the 2004 World Volleyball Grand Prix. They regard the event as part of their final preparations for Athens.

China has already beat Thailand, the United States and Italy, but coaches seem unsatisfied with the girls' performance, saying they should continue to beef up attacks.

Standing 1.97 meters, Zhao Ruirui, known as "the backbone" of the team, has resumed training after 4 months recovering from a fracture. Although she's working hard and making much progress, team doctors warn she's only performing at 30 percent of her original level.

Zhao Ruirui said, "The main problems at this stage are that I can't jump as much as I could before, and I need more time to improve ball control and my positioning. I haven't touched the ball for quite a long time, but I believe everything will be better soon."

Coaches say the girls must learn to play more like a team, because Zhao Ruirui is still likely to miss the Olympics despite her speedy recovery.


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