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UPDATED: 15:08, July 20, 2004
Olympic Preview: China targets one athletics gold in Athens
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Three months ago when China' outdoor season opened, national head coach Feng Shuyong said their targets for track and field in the Athens Olympic Games is to win two medals of any colors.

Now he predicts that China has a chance to win a gold and they are almost sure to bring home two medals.

High hurdler Liu Xiang makes the difference.

The 21-year-old, who won the bronze medals in both indoor and outdoor world championships last year, showed his superb form this season, beating former Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion Allen Johnson of the United States in Osaka, Japan, in a fabulous time of 13.06 seconds.

He went on to win two events in Lille, France and Zagreb, Croatia, in June before narrowly losing to Johnson in the Rome Golden Gala early July in a photo finish. They both clocked 13.11 seconds.

"Liu's task is not to strive for a medal, but a gold," the long jumper-turned-coach Feng said.

Chinese athletes have won one gold medal apiece from the last three Olympic Games. Chen Yueling took the women's 10km walking gold in Barcelona in 1992. Wang Junxia won the women's 10,000m event in the 1996 Atlanta Games and Wang Liping triumphed in the women's 20km walking in Sydney four years ago.

"Hopefully this time we are still able to win something from the walking event," Feng said.

But the women's walkers are all but one that can be relied on. Both Chen and Wang won their gold medals at the expense of other walkers, who were both fouled out at the last moment.

And women's hammer throwers Gu Yuan and Zhang Wenxiu are also likely to get a medal. Gu is the World Cup champion and fourth placer in the world championships in Paris last year.

Zhang just emerged as a strong contender earlier this season when she broke Gu's Asian record of 72.03 meters with a toss of 72.37 in Nanjing in May.

And Sun Yingjie, the bronze medalist in the women's 10,000m in Paris last year, has fully recovered from an injury and the disappointing seventh finishing show in April's London Marathon.

"They must train harder and improve their abilities to perform well on the occasions as big as the Olymic Games," Feng said.

"To tell you the truth, I don't like to talk about targets. I just want them to perform their best in Athens.

"For example, we hope Liu can run under 13.10, Gu and Zhang can throw more than 73 meters and Sun can run inside 29.50 minutes. All the coaching staff think they can achieve these results."

"If they have achieved these results but fail to win a medal, there should be no regrets," Feng said.

"What we fear most is that they would make mistakes," he added. "Never make mistakes in the Olympics. Let your rivals make mistakes."

Following is the track and field team:

Women: Li Xuemei, Huang Xiaoxiao, Sun Yingjie, Xing Huina, Song Hongjuan, Jiang Jing, Wang Liping, Zhang Shujing, Zhou Chunxiu, Li Helan, Guan Yingnan, Huang Qiuyan, Gao Shuying, Zhao Yingying, Li

Meiju, Li Fengfeng, Zhang Xiaoyu, Song Aimin, Li Yanfeng, Xue Juan, Ma Ning, Gu Yuan, Zhang Wenxiu, Liu Yinghui, Shen Shengfei, Huang Qun, Zhang Hao, Bu Fanfang, Liang Shuyan, Sun Yiping, Jing Xuezhu, Wang Lina

Men: Cheng Haijian, Yang Yaozu, Liu Xiang, Shi Dongpeng, Zhu Hongjun, Yu Chaohong, Han Yucheng, Qi Haifeng, Li Zhuhong, Liu Feiliang, Zhou Can, Li Yanxi, Wu Tao, Liu Yunfeng, Zhu Ronghua, Han Gang, Dou Zhaobo, Alatan Gadasu, Li Rongxiang, Liu Yang.

Source: Xinhua

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