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UPDATED: 16:16, May 23, 2004
China beat S. Korea in men's volleyball Olympic qualifier
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Asian runners-up toppled champions South Korea 3-0 in their opener of the men's volleyball final qualifying tournament for the Athens Olympics Saturday in Tokyo.

Zhang Xiang and three other veterans paced the Chinese nationalside for its first win in five years against South Korea with a 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 victory.

In other actions, World bronze medallists France defeated Australia 25-18, 30-28, 28-26, Canada downed Iran 25-20, 25-20, 28-26 and Japan scored 25-14, 25-15, 25-18 over Algeria.

The eight-nation round robin tournament winners and the top-placed Asian team will travel to Athens.

"This is my first international competition since 1999. I wanted to take part and the national team also wanted me to play, so I came back," said 32-year-old Zhang Xiang.

"We prepared very well for the match against South Korea, because we lost to them so many times in the past years. Everybody was calm mentally and I'm really pleased all our effort paid off."

An Jiajie, Zheng Liang and captain Wang Hebing had also not played for the national team since 1999 and had been coaching at their clubs, explained Chinese head coach Di Anhe.

"We played only with young players in the World Cup last year in an effort to prepare for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I calledup the veterans in April, because we can get closer to Athens withthem," Di said.

Di added that it was the first time that China had beaten SouthKorea since the Shanghai tournament in 1999.

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