Olympic champions gear
up for World Grand Prix
China, June 16, 2005 – Following their outstanding gold
medal performance in Athens, China, the number one
women’s team in the world, are ominously talking up
improving their performance for the 2005 World Grand
With the tag “favourites” normally attached everywhere
they go, the title may be a little frayed for the 2005
World Grand Prix as the World Cup holders are boasting
are new and rejuvenated lineup.
This new squad still managed to win a pre-season
tournament in China earlier this month and now they’re
thick in the middle of training with an eye to their
opening World Grand Prix match on June 24 against
Thailand in Ningbo.
But as captain Feng Kun, who is preparing for her fifth
World Grand Prix, knows too well, with a young side one
must start at the basics and slowly build on working
combinations and coordination.
Photo: Feng Kun (right) and Ma Yunwen
"I remember my first match in the World Grand Prix,”
Kun, 27, said. “Everybody was younger at the time so it
wasn’t a happy occasion be we grew up slowly through the
competition since then,” she said.
"This new Chinese side has been renovated this year with
more rookies included so the results are not the most
important, it is the understanding and improvement in
combinations which is what we need right now.
"But once again I’m very excited to be playing again in
the World Grand Prix because it is a chance to compete
against the best teams in the world."
Arguably one of the best setter’s in the world, Kun
knows all about the trials and tribulations of
pre-tournament anxiety but as usual she’ll only let her
actions on court do the talking in an effort to lead her
young side into battle.
Meanwhile, Ma Yunwen from Shanghai, who is only
19-years-old this year, will be one of those looking to
Kun for leadership as she will be making her debut in
the World Grand Prix.
"I only watched the competition on TV last year,” the
1.89m second spiker said. “I had not expected at that
time that I would be participating in this year’s
contest one year later.
"Yes, I am still very young but I hope to study my older
team members and the other world class athletes through
the competition in order to progress.”
China has never finished worse than fifth place having
participated in all 12 editions of the World Grand Prix
but in the two times that they have finished two places
outside of the medals last year’s was one of the most
unusual where they finished third in the Preliminary
Round with only two defeats before missing out on the
medals only on set ratio.