Chinese paddlers head for another Olympic sweep with "sweet trouble"

09:11, July 28, 2011      

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Counting down a whole year for the 2012 London Olympic Games, the all-time leading Chinese table tennis team gives a priority to who to be sent rather than how to repeat a clean sweep.

In the six previous Olympic Games which had table tennis competition since 1988, China have collected all four medals in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008.

And just like what they did before last Games on home soil, the Chinese paddlers again took on everything at both of the world championships in Yokohama 2009 and Rotterdam last May.

Sweeping all gold medals and even claiming all the women's singles quarterfinal spots in last May's worlds, China have again demonstrated their dominance in the sport.

When two youngsters from the star-studded Chinese team, the 23-year-old Zhyang Jike and Ding Ning, 21, beat their more established teammates to be crowned at the Rotterdam worlds, no one doubts that China could skip the possible backwardness after an unprecedented peak in Beijing 2008.

Hitting the first registration deadline set by the sport's world governing body ITTF, the Chinese team announced earlier last June that world champions Wang Hao and Zhang Jike will play in the men's singles Olympic event in London. So will front-runners in world rankings Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan on women's part.

The top 28 players in ITTF's world singles rankings released in June qualify for the 2012 Summer Games, with no more than two from any one delegation.

It's an obvious setback to China as the ITTF decided to deduct one player each from the men's and women's singles events, after the hosts occupied three out of four semifinal spots in Beijing Olympics, as many as they could for the best.

Also a new rule by the ITTF, which requires the Olympic qualification berths to be allocated based on the players' world rankings, caused a headache for the Chinese team.

However, the stake for China to win all is still high with their vast reserve of talent.

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