Beijing, China, May 22, 2007 – The Chinese Women's National Team will begin its busy competition season in 2007, starting with two legs of the Chinese International Four-Team Tournament from May 23 to June 2 in China.
Head Coach Chen Zhonghe has already announced a 15-player squad for the tournament, which is drawing the other three teams from Cuba, the Netherlands and Dominica Republic. Though some young players are included in the team, the main line-up does not have major changes except for the setter. Eye-catching setter Feng kun is left off the line-up as she had to undergo an operation in the United States and is now recovering. She is replaced by 18-year-old Wei Qiuyue. Key players in the first line-up are almost the same as that of the World Championship in Japan, including spikers Yang Hao and Wang Yimei, opposite Zhou Suhong, middle blockers Liu Yannan and Xu Yunli. Wang Yimei is injuried so she may be replaced by Zhang Yuehong, a veteran who helped China winning the 2004 Olympic Games gold medal.
But young players will be given more chances to play in these events so as to test their ability and gain more experience in international competitions, according to head coach Chen.
After the Chinese International Tournament, the Chinese women's team will go to Switzerland to take part in the annual Montreux Volley Masters' Women's Tournament from June 3-11, then compete in the Yeltsin Cup in Russia from June 26 to July 28. After the Chinese team participated in an international invitational tournament in the Netherlands in July, they will compete three rounds of the World Grand Prix on consecutive weekends and the six-team final round in Ningbo, China from August 22-26.
The last important event the Chinese women's team will participate in is the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship in Thailand in September. They will try their utmost to defend their Asian Champion title.
According to head coach Chen Zhonghe, the Chinese team will not put too much importance on the results they will get in these events. The head coach is well aware that the team is not as strong this year as it was the past. His aim is to take part in these competition in order to see how much the Chinese players grow and in what extent they demonstrate their training output and to raise the technical level of Chinese Volleyball team.
He said he will give the young players more exposure in high-level competition, gaining more experience in international events.
For the Chinese coach, the most important event will be the 2008 Olympic Games. He said “The 2007 World Grand Prix is a very important event for us, since China is the host nation. All international events are important to us as I regard these competitions as a chance to gain experience for the 2008 Olympic Games. Therefore, I will observe my players’ performance, enhance their ability and accumulate international competition experience through those events.
“As far as 2007 world competitions are concerned, we are not required to reach a high ranking. I hope my team will have the opportunity to participate in more international events this year to enhance the overall strength of the team. To conduct a satisfactory performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is my ambition and also an ideal gift to my country and homeland people.”