The Chinese Women Team is nearing the end of their Closed Training after staying in Chengdu for more than a month. This will be followed by their final Olympic warm-up match on July 9 to 11. In an interview, head coach Shi Zhihao said that he still have some concerns.
Representing China for the Olympic Singles are Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia, the top and second seeds of the world ranking respectively.
According to the usual rules, high ranking players will skip the first few rounds and qualify directly to Round 32. On a positive note, this is an advantage for them as they will still have raging power to get them through the finals.
However for Shi Zhihao, this privilege has a certain degree of disadvantage. "There are a total of 68 players. The conditions of those qualifiers who will reach the Round 32 are probably all warmed up as they have adjusted with the venue and the atmosphere already. Looking in the Singles, it will be more difficult as our opponents will be stronger."
Coach Shi Zhihao thinks that the first round of his players would be a critical round. For him, having a quick entry into the right condition for their first match is a must. Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia must exceed the power of their opponents.
In addition to that, Shi Zhihao also addressed the change in floor rubber color for this upcoming Olympic Games. With a change from red to blue, it will certainly have an impact on the players.
In order to adapt to this change in advance, the Chinese Team specially laid down the blue rubber floors in their training halls just to fully simulate the environment of the Excel Arena.
"London will be the first to use the blue plastic. It actually appears to be beautiful. The players will be very excited. However, the players will also have some reactions. We actually found some experts to discuss the impact of the changes in the visual environment. Actually, I'm starting to feel like it is like a pool. I feel like I'm on a ship. In advance adaptation would certainly help." Shi Zhihao said.
For the past six Olympic seasons, the Chinese Team has never let go of the Singles gold medal. As for his expectations of Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia, Shi Zhihao is still very much confident.
"As long as there are no problems in the first two rounds, they will be able to hit the finals." Shi Zhihao concluded.
Ding Ning & Li Xiaoxia
Photo source: sports.sina.com