Volleyball legend Lang Ping's decision to coach Turkish league giant Telekom Ankara less than a week after quitting the US national team has been met with surprise and support from Chinese fans, many of whom were hoping she would relent and come back to coach in the land of her birth.
Lang, known as the "Iron Hammer" during her playing days for her killer spikes that earned China a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, still has time to do so however as she only signed a five-month deal with the European club, with which she won on her debut on Sunday.
"Whether coaching at home or abroad, we wish Lang success. We are proud of her as she has proved, and will continue to prove, that she, as a Chinese, is one of the world's best volleyball coaches," said one Internet posting on domestic portal Sina.com.
"I support Lang's decision. There's too much pressure involved in coaching a national team," said another.
Lang, who turns 48 next Wednesday, explained her decision by claiming that she wants more time to spend with her family in Beijing and the US.
"I am not young any more, and I have to consider if my physical ability can support me in sustaining the pressure as head coach and working very hard throughout the whole year (as a national team coach).
"My parents are very old in Beijing and are not well. As their daughter, I must spend more time with them and show my filial affection to them. When my mother heard I will not take the position of the head coach of the American team she was very happy, showing an old mother's love to her beloved daughter," added Lang, who moved to the Turkish capital of Ankara on Friday.
The Turkish league only lasts five months. Although speculation has mounted that she was tempted by an attractive salary, no details regarding her new package were made available to the press.
Changing topic, Lang said China's current head coach Chen Zhonghe was the right man for the job to steer China to greater success.
"Chen has proven himself as one of the few excellent coaches in the world. Thanks to his brilliant instructions, the volleyball team won its first Olympic title in Athens since 1984 and the bronze four years later (in Beijing)."
"Chen is the overwhelming choice unless his physical condition becomes a problem," she added.
Call for support
Lang, a Hall of Famer who led the US women to a silver medal at the Beijing Games in August, asked for her friends and fans to bear with her despite her sudden shift to another continent.
"I did not expect to coach another team so quickly, but the club showed trust in me and hope I can bring something to the team as soon as possible," Lang was quoted as saying by Sohu.com.
"In the following months, I will lead the team in the domestic league, Cup competitions and European Champions League. It's not easy for me. I hope people, including my friends and family, will support me and pay more attention to my team."
Lang's coaching credentials are impeccable. She steered China to a silver medal at Atlanta 1996 then later served out successful coaching stints in Italy (six years) and the United States, where she won another silver medal at Beijing 2008.
"I spent a long time in Italy, so I'm familiar with volleyball in Europe and I'm interested in facing the challenge once again," she said.
Source: China Daily/Agencies