Perhaps also with one eye on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese Volleyball Association (CVA) has announced that their newly formed men's national team will go all out for a berth in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, as well as a good result at the Asian Championships.
The 15-strong squad led by head coach Di Anhe is designed for the perfect mix of experience and young talent, but does not name Wang Zhiteng, Fang Yingchao and Li Enliang who were selected in the original 18-man squad.
Veteran setter Wang Hebing, now 34 but still considered the nation's best setter, will play a key role, according to the head coach, who has a deep belief that this play's skills and experience will be essential to the team's success.
Meanwhile, China's ace spikers Hu Song, Shen Qiong and Wu Xiaojiang make up a formidable attacking line that will be further enhanced by Shi Hairong, who at 1.92 m lacks some of the height of the others, but more than makes up for in skills.
All the team members will gather in Beijing at the end of April at the conclusion of the Chinese National League, the CVA has announced.
The national squad:
Yuan Zhi, Wang Haichuan and Chu Hui from Liaoning, Tang Miao, Shen Qiong, Cui Xiaodong and He Jiong from Shanghai TV Club, Shi Hairong and Zhang Xiaodong from Jiangsu Yipingmei Club, Li Hang, Zheng Liang and Wang Hebing from Zhejiang Liquan Club, Hu Song from Beijing, Wu Xiaojiang and Li Chun from Army Club. (From Wang Yongsun, Confederation Press Officer, Asia).