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Table tennis' legendary duo jointly take charge of all-conquering Chinese national teams


09:52, February 27, 2013

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Just a decade from their players' time, the table tennis Grand Slam winning "Twin Stars" of China, Liu Guoliang and Kong Linghui, have again joined forces at the leading role of the country's national squads' coaching staff.

The sport's governing body of China Tuesday held a press conference to finalize the appointment of Liu to be the general head coach while to keep his job as the men's head coach, and of Kong to head the women's national side.

Taking the charge of an all-time leading squad which has been on top of the world for decades, especially on the women's side, Liu and Kong will have to prove their worth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"My predecessor Shi Zhihao did an extraordinary job," said Kong, dubbed the Prince of Table Tennis at his player time. "Under Shi's reign, the Chinese women's team pocketed all gold medals on offer in two Olympic Games, which set a high bar for me."

No easy case for Liu, either, since the Chinese national team has been run under a commission without a "general head coach" for eight years. "It will be very challenging, for sure," Liu said.

The two young Turk, however, hold far more soaring ambitions than lying on the record of merits.

"I'm both confident and determined to create a new era of table tennis alongside with my buddy Kong Linghui in the coming years," said Liu, who first took his job as the men's national head coach in 2003 and successfully guarded it twice in the following years. In his reign, the Chinese men's team collected almost all but one Olympic and world titles.

"Like my buddy Liu Guoliang said, we are not just eyeing to win more gold medals, but going to make table tennis a more popular sport in China and elsewhere of the world, to help it better develop," echoed Kong.

Both now 37 years old, Liu and Kong had been always put on a bar with each other in 1990s, not only for their equally glorious career as paddlers but their brotherhood.

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