Women´s Hockey team prepares for Athens 07-29-2004 14:24

For the Chinese Women's hockey team, April 1st was not All Fool's Day, but the day they gained a berth at the Athens Olympics. It has been 2 months since then, so how are things going with these young women? Let's take a close look.

Kim Chang-Bak, the team's workaholic coach from South Korea, has been leading Chinese women's Hockey for four years. He has worked out a detailed training plan for his girls to improve their practical abilities. On the 1st of April each year, he was used to write a letter to his players. In this year's letter he wrote, "It is a miracle for us. What we have done and are doing adds a new chapter to the history of Chinese hockey. However, all this doesn't just come from heaven; it is achieved with our blood and sweat. Your senior team-mates contributed their youth. No words can describe those arduous years. But they were worthwhile."

The problem now facing the team is how to properly prepare themselves for the upcoming Olympics and how to complete the succession from old to new. Since the beginning of the year, the team has been stationed in Huangcun, Guangdong province, undergoing stamina and skill training.

The worst part of each day's training is the 10 by 400 meter endurance race. The first 3 laps are supposed to be finished in a time of 1 minute 50 seconds each. The next 3 laps can be finished 5 seconds slower, but in the last lap, they should finish in no more than 1 minute and 33 seconds. As long as the young sportswomen persevere in this intensive training, they can maintain the fitness needed to perform in attack and defense.

Of the world's top 4 women's hockey teams, the Chinese team is the only one from Asia. The other teams are from Europe, whose players' are more robust, faster and stronger than the Chinese women.

To make up for this, head coach Kim Chang-Bak has shifted the focus of training. He has invited the Guangdong Men's hockey team to play against the Chinese women three times a week.

Despite facing men, the hockey girls don't show the least fear. It has allowed the team to improve its passing, close-marking and one-to-one defense.

Kim Chang-Bak said, 鈥淭o play against a men's team, with their stamina and high speed, benefits our specialized skills. In the matches, if our girls can match their tempo, that's fine. Their blocking and passing is so quick that through the matches we can improve our passing and the utilization of specialized skills.鈥

In the Sydney Olympics, the Chinese Women's hockey team secured 5th place. 4 years on, the new team led by Kim Chang-Bak has a higher aim. This dedicated South Korean coach expects to change Chinese hockey history once again. But it remains to be seen whether the Chinese team will make it onto the podium at Athens.

The Chinese women's hockey team has beaten their men's youth counterparts 4-2 in Wujin, Jiangsu Province. The friendly was a warm-up match for the Olympic squad getting ready for the upcoming Athens Games.

The team has just wrapped up their one-month European friendly series in the Netherlands and Germany, losing only 2 matches out of 9.

Led by the South Korean coach Kim Chang-bak, the team brought home the Asian and World championships in 2002. The women say they will strive to win the gold in their maiden Olympic voyage.


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