Lausanne, Switzerland, August 27, 2013 – As the six finalist teams start counting down the days to the World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo (Japan), Feng Kun, former star player of China’s national volleyball team shares her views of the action so far and what volleyball fans can expect to see at the Finals this year.
“Time flies. I still remember the final match of the 2003 World Grand Prix Finals in Italy, where China beat Russia in straight sets to win the World Grand Prix title for the first time ever. The triumph in the World Grand Prix was an important confidence boost and China went on to clinch back-to-back titles at the World Cup in Japan and the Olympic Games in Athens. For me and my colleagues, it really was the best time of our careers.
“This year is the first year of the new Olympic circle and I believe the World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo will be entertaining to watch. Almost all the best teams in the world have recruited some new players and it will be interesting to observe the performances of the new up-and-coming talents to see who will be the superstars of tomorrow. The experienced players will also be working hard to continue their best form and keep their top level of playing.
“Although I have not had the opportunity to watch many matches in the preliminary rounds except those involving China, I have been following the news and reports of the World Grand Prix closely. The USA and Serbia were in great shape and I believe the competition in the Finals will be wide open and every team in Sapporo will have the same chance to vie for the top honour. The Finals are totally different from the preliminaries because the players are under greater pressure and mental focus will be very important, especially to the young players. I am looking forward to seeing some fierce competition and outstanding performances from the best teams in the world.
“The Chinese team has won nine matches in a row in the preliminary round under the guidance of Lang Ping. Importantly the preliminary round gave Lang Ping the opportunity to try different players and line-ups and get familiar with her team. I am pleased to see China enter the Finals as the top finisher in the preliminary round, but the players now need to put this behind them and concentrate on this coming weekend’s matches. They should just do the best they can. Of course they will try to take every opportunity to win, but the goal of the team for this tournament is not winning the title, but looking for their best line-up and improving overall performance.
“In my opinion, it will be interesting to watch Zhu Ting, a young side attacker who was recruited from the national youth team by Lang Ping. She is young and talented and has the potential to become a superstar in the future.
“The Chinese setter Shen Jingsi is also worth watching. She was selected for the national team over the last four years, but this will be the first important tournament she will play as a starting setter. As a retired setter, I will be watching her play closely. And I also expect great performances from veterans Wang Yimei, Hui Ruoqi and Zhang Xian, who are in a golden time of their volleyball careers.
“I am also pleased to see that the Challenge System will be used in the World Grand Prix Finals for the first time ever. I think it’s a very good idea to bring this technology into the sport of volleyball. The competition in this tournament gets stronger every year and from my experience controversial calls affect the moral of players quite significantly sometimes. I think the introduction of the Challenge System will make the game fairer and help referees make better and more accurate decisions.”
Feng Kun is a former Chinese volleyball who retired in 2011. In a distinguished career Kun won many titles, including gold at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games - where she was also named MVP and Best Setter - and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2003 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup, the 2001 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Grand Champions Cup and the 2003 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix where she was also the Best Setter. She was also the Athletes’ Role Model at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010.
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