Guangzhou, China, November 12, 2010 – China's women's team will have little time to relax when the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship comes to an end as they travel straight to Guangzhou in their home country to compete at the 2010 Asian Games.
Yu Juemin, coach of the Chinese women's team, talks with his players during the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship where they are set to compete in the 9-12 semifinals on Saturday
The women's event begins on November 18, four days after the conclusion of the Women's World Championship. China's men will also be taking part and their competition begins on Saturday. A total of 11 women's teams and 18 men's teams will compete for the title.
Women's coach Yu Juemin, who became the team's third coach in 18 months after his appointment on September 2, vowed to win gold at the tournament to make up for what has been an inconsistent showing at the World Championship for the world No.3.
The 2004 Olympic champions have seen their fortunes slide after wrapping up a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on home soil. Following a stunning defeat by lower-ranked Thailand for the first time at the 2009 Asian Championship, they have yet to regain form and confidence.
"We have great pressure in the Asian Games," Yu said on Tuesday in Tokyo where China are competing in the 9-12 semifinals. "The China team are in a very difficult situation now. Asian teams such as Korea, Thailand and Japan have improved a lot in recent years, and they will cause a lot of trouble for China."
China lost to Korea 3-0 at the World Championship for the first time in eight years. Moreover, the last time they failed to reach last eight was in 1974, when they placed 14th.
The current Asian Champions have a tough group in Guangzhou, facing Thailand, Korea and Tajikistan in Pool A. But Yu, who was assistant coach for eight years, signalled his desire for victory. "We are confident in the Asian Games," he added. "Our goal is to strive for the gold medal."
In the men's competition, the traditional Asian powerhouses, China, Japan and Korea, together with Iran, all have a good chance of gold. Yet the China men's team are in a much tougher situation than their female counterparts.
Coach Zhou Jian'an's charges have suffered losses to Iran, Japan and Korea, and only ranked fourth in the 2009 Asian Championship, the worst result for China in the event's history. In the 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship in Italy, China won one single set in three matches and placed 19th, another worst performance, hence Zhou knows that anything other than the gold medal at the upcoming tournament will not be good enough.