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Lang Ping bringing back volleyball's golden age in China

(CRI Online)    15:02, August 22, 2016

Lang Ping coaching the Chinese women's volleyball team at the Rio Olympics [Photo: Xinhua]

As China claimed the gold medal in women's volleyball at the Rio Olympics over the weekend, the team's head coach Lang Ping was praised for her leadership that lifted China's volleyball out of a downturn.

Lang Ping, a well-known name in volleyball, has long been called the "Iron Hammer" in China, a nickname she picked up during her playing days some 3 decades ago.

She became a head coach in the Italian professional volleyball league, winning the league championship and coach-of-the-year award multiple times, after retiring from China's national volleyball team.

In 2008, she led the United States national women's volleyball team to silver in the Beijing Olympics.

In 2013, Lang returned to China to save the floundering Chinese women's volleyball team.

During an interview with CCTV, Lang Ping looked back on their path to the gold and admitted it was not smooth. "I think because, especially during the pool games, we did not play that well," she said. "So we couldn't think that far ahead. We just said okay, right now it's the quarterfinals, we still have a chance. Let's play real volleyball. Forget about the pressure, forget about the result. Just go ahead and concentrate on the game."

"And then we did it. It was like a miracle," said Lang.

Team China started its campaign with losses against the Netherlands, Serbia and the U.S.

However, the squad managed to finish 4th in the qualifiers, which was good enough to get them into the quarterfinals where they upset defending Olympic champions Brazil.

The victory provided stimulus that beefed up the team's confidence.

"I couldn't believe that we beat the former champion, Brazil. That game really encouraged us," Lang said.

And after getting through the Netherlands and into the final, Lang Ping told her players to try to shake off their previous results and just play "in the moment."

"I think because for both teams, we had a 50 percent chance. The result you can't really think of. You have to concentrate for the game," said Lang. "Because all the teams are the best. So it's going to be really, really hard to beat them, especially at the pool game we lost to Serbia like 3:0. So we had to concentrate to play every point. I think we were also very lucky win two points by set. It's very unusual. I think I'm very thrilled."

In helping lead her squad to victory, Lang Ping has become the first person to win an Olympic volleyball medal as both a coach and a player.

Back in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics, she and her teammates helped China to snatch the country's first Olympic gold in volleyball.

Since then, the Chinese women's volleyball team has been set up as a flagship among all Chinese sports teams for their tenacity and fighting spirit.

Their influence is still here: a survey shows that 7 out of 10 homes in China were watching the Olympic final for women's volleyball live on Sunday.

In the post-match interview in Rio, Lang Ping said "the spirit of the Chinese women's volleyball team is to never give up. My duty as the coach is to guide this young team to carry on this spirit."

But, at the same time, she also stressed that "spirit alone will not bring victories. We also need scientific training and management systems."

After returning to the Chinese national team, Lang Ping took a number of bold moves to reform the team, including hiring kinesiotherapists from the U.S. and hand-picking inexperienced but young players.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor: Huang Jin,Bianji)

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