Aug. 18, 2016: a date that will go down in Chinese sporting history after China beat the Netherlands 3:1 during the women's volleyball semifinal at the Rio Olympic Games. After 12 years, the Chinese team has finally made it once again to the Olympic final.
After the semifinal match, head coach Lang Ping said she could barely breathe as the match progressed.
"I kept thinking about how to deal with the opponents. Both of our scores increased alternately. I have never seen such intensity," the coach remarked.
Lang said she knew it would be a challenge to play against the Netherlands, since the team is quite competitive.
"I always told the players they would come across many difficulties, but all we could do was play our utmost. The Chinese women's volleyball team is tough."
Setter Ding Xia explained that they had analyzed their experiences being defeated by the Netherlands in group games, and then prepared tactics based on those experiences. Moreover, the most important thing to the Chinese players was maintaining a positive attitude.
Ding explained, "We enhanced the blocking and digging on their spikers, especially Sloetjes. To drastically improve our skills in just a few days is impossible, but we used our confidence and morale to better our performance."
As for the victory, Lang is very proud of the team's performance, boasting that they won based on "will power."
However, just two days ago, few people believed the Chinese team would be able to defeat the Brazilians, let alone make it to the finals. Even Lang admitted that the Brazilian team was a formidable opponent in terms of both experience and skill.
On the subject of that match, Lang said that she didn't put too much pressure on the Chinese team: "We didn't think much about success, but just played the best game we could. Our players are really brave."
(Source from Visual China)
Lang also hopes that gleeful supporters do not overinflate the competitive spirit of the players.
"Winning a match is not all that matters," Lang emphasized.
Lang credits her team and their attitude for their success so far, but it's undeniable that Lang herself also deserves some credit. As a legendary player and coach of Chinese women's volleyball, Lang played on the Chinese teams that won the 1982 World Championship and earned gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. She was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2002, and was named FIVB Coach of the Year in 1996.
Lang previously coached volleyball in China from 1995 to 1999, winning bronze at the 1995 World Cup and silver at both the 1996 Olympic Games and 1998 World Championship. She returned as head coach of the Chinese women's team in 2013. She led them to silver at the World Championship, and gold at the 2015 World Cup.