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CHN/CHINA 

After its 2003 double of winning the World Cup and the World Grand Prix, China is not only a strong bet to make the top six but will settle for nothing less than first place at the Athens Olympics, to add to its three previous Olympic medals (gold in 1984, silver in 1996, bronze in 1988), its two World Championship titles (1982, 1986), and its three World Cup titles (1981,1985, and 2003).

China is the team to fear in the world of womenís Volleyball at the moment. Not only is the Asian superpower ranked as the best on the FIVB world ranking list, these tremendously talented ladies are also Asian Champions. Thus, having gained so many successes in top competitions over the past few years, there is little else but gold on the minds of the Chinese players ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games.

In an ominous sign for all opposing teams, the Chinese womenís team is going through a rebuilding phase with a side composed of many young and talented players, who have brought a new and dynamic style to their play. It worked wonderfully in 2003 at the World Grand Prix and World Cup and now they are hoping to do the same in 2004 at the Olympic Games.

Players like team captain Feng Kun, Chen Jing and 196 cm Zhao Ruirui are becoming more and more experienced and increasingly dominant on the international scene. Their combination in the 2003 World Cup and 2003 World Grand Prix was exhilarating and has laid the foundation for some of Chinaís superb results.

Under coach Chen Zhonghe, China is currently trying to build a team with distinguished characteristics on the basis of overall abilities for offence and defense and judging by current results heís doing an excellent job. Feng is the conductor of the side, masterminding attacks from the setter position, and donít be surprised to see her play another leading role in Chinaís efforts to win only their second Olympic gold medal. Having won at their first Games appearance in 1984, bronze in 1988 and silver in 1996 have made it a good return from five Olympic starts for China.