Chinese paddlers head for another Olympic sweep with "sweet trouble" (2)

09:11, July 28, 2011      

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Wang Hao, 27, was the 2009 Yokohama world championships' men's singles title winner and twice finalist in the last two Olympic Games, and has won over almost every arch-rival in the world. He's the hottest favorite with no doubt for the London Olympic men's title.

For the women's, Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan are both fit and hungry, while the newly crowned world champion Ding Ning is waiting for her chance.

China can also qualify for the three-member Olympic team competition through the March 25-April 1 World Team Championships in Dortmund, Cermany in 2012, leaving another Olympic berth open to remaining forces on the team, like male player Ma Long and Guo Yue in the women's.

Moreover, the Beijing Olympic winning squad members, veterans Ma Lin and Wang Liqin are still holding on.

"One good thing is that I'm not totally ruled out," Ma Lin, the 2008 Olympic men's singles gold medalist, said last June on the sidelines of the China Open after missing the first batch of Olympic qualifications.

The 31-year-old admitted that his age might be a weak point in his quest for third appearance in the Olympics.

"Now I need a strong stimulus to mobilize myself since I am older," said the two-time Olympian. "I find motivation from fierce competition. I have been through such a competitive atmosphere since I battled for Olympic qualification in 2000."

Former world No. 1 and three-time world champion Wang Liqin also refused to give up chasing a spot in the London Games.

"I will absolutely not give up," said the 33-year-old Wang, who was dropped out of China's national squad for last year's Asian Games.

"I have always told myself to work harder. Although I know it's going to be tough, I will try my best," said Wang, who won the men's singles title at the world championships in 2001, 2005 and 2007.

With one year to go until the London 2012 Olympics, the Chinese team still has time to resolve their "sweet trouble", and like vice chairman of the Chinese table tennis association Liu Fengyan's said, "any thing can happen".

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