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Thread: Lyb & Ch
07-11-2007, 06:41 PM #1
Lyb & Ch
This is an article I dug out of South China Morning Post.
Coach opens door for rebel shuttler
Martin Zhou in Beijing
Updated on Jul 11, 2007China's head coach Li Yongbo has eased hostilities with renegade shuttler Chen Hong, opening the door for the player's possible return to the national team for Olympic consideration.
The rift between the two occurred after Chen's decision three months ago to quit the national team and pursue an Olympics berth on his own. But all seems now to have been forgiven as Li said on the sidelines of the China Masters in Chengdu that Chen, 28, deserves a place in the Olympics if he maintains his form.
"Recent results have proven that Chen remains at a high playing level," Li said. "If he continues like this throughout the qualifying tour and earns himself enough points in the rankings, there is no reason why he can't appear in Beijing next year."
Chen (pictured), fresh off a comeback title victory in the just-concluded Thailand Open, has jumped three places to number two in the world rankings since coming out of a brief retirement. He plays Malaysia's Choong Hann Wong today in the opening round of the US$250,000 China Masters.
Li admitted he was left in a difficult situation when Chen came out of a short retirement in April to embark on a campaign on his own on the Olympics qualifying tour.
The then-troubled shuttler had dropped out of the Asian Games squad in December, believing he had little chance to earn a berth for the Beijing Games under the Chinese team regime. He called it quits in February.
"Despite being unhappy when the news first broke, after prolonged consideration, we decided to give him the green light to fly solo because otherwise we risked losing him to one of our rivals," said Li, then worried by rumours of Chen's possible recruitment by Indonesia or Taiwan.
"That, if it had materialised, would make a dent in China's plan to regain the Olympic men's singles gold medal in Beijing next year." Though a superpower in the sport, China have only once won the men's singles title at an Olympics, through Ji Xipeng in Sydney 2000.