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'Iron Hammer' swings to new beat
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09:27, August 07, 2009

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Leading a team to the top of the world is the ultimate coaching goal, but for volleyball legend Lang Ping that dream appears over.

Having guided teams to two Olympic silver medals in her coaching career, 48-year-old Lang is now aiming to promote the sport in other ways.

"I still love volleyball but I've thought nothing about leading another national team to lift the Olympic champions title. It would be so tiring," said Lang, who is enjoying a vacation in Beijing with her daughter.

"But I will continue to coach in the future and I believe my experience could help other professional teams," she said in an interview with sohu.com.

Known as the "Iron Hammer" during her playing days on the Chinese team in the 1980s, Lang was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2002. That was almost 20 years after her peak as a player when she helped the Chinese team win five consecutive titles including a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, a World Championship title in 1982 and two World Cup crowns in 1981 and 1985.

Her coaching career is also full of glory.

As the head coach of the Chinese team from 1995-99, she guided the squad to a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

From 1999 to 2004, Lang shone in the Italian volleyball league where she coached her team to the championship several times.

Working with the US women's team from 2005-08, Lang helped that team win the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, beating China, the defending champions and eventual silver medalists, along the way. After the Beijing Games, Lang turned down a contract extension with the US team.

Instead, she returned to club volleyball and signed a four-month contract with Turkish league giants Telekom Ankara last December.

That commitment ended in April and Lang is now enjoying time with her 17-year-old daughter, Bai Lang, who is in her last year at middle school. The only coaching she is doing is with her daughter.

"My daughter likes to play volleyball and the training time during the semesters in high school is not enough for her, so I play with her for a few hours a day during her summer vacation," Lang said.

"I won't push her to be a professional volleyball player, but I hope she can keep her enthusiasm for the sport. I won't give her any pressure, only advice when she needs."

Despite not having coached the Chinese team for almost a decade, Lang still pays close attention to the national squad.

"The new Chinese team have strong potential," Lang said after watching them play at the 2009 Grand Prix event in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

"Although it's hard to give them an exact score, I think they have bright future," she said.

The Chinese women's volleyball squad always bear heavy expectations from the Chinese public - especially the head coach, and Lang said she couldn't take the pressure right now.

"When I coached the Chinese team I felt a lot of responsibility. I can't shoulder such pressure right now. I would prefer to help promote the sport in other ways," she said.

Source: China Daily/Agency

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