China’s ‘spiker’ helps set things up now
Lang Ping understands how difficult it is to repeat the feat.
She was the spiker on China’s gold medal volleyball team at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, but has yet to win the ultimate prize as head coach of the national squad.
After helming China to a 3-1 win over the Netherlands on Thursday, Lang will get her third shot at golden glory when her team squares off against Serbia on Saturday.
“It’s definitely a different feeling to win the Olympics as a player compared to as a coach,” said Lang, who was in charge of the national team from 1995-98 before returning in 2013.
“The game has changed significantly over the past 32 years, but the meaning of a gold medal remains just the same. I will try my best to prepare the girls for the final.”
Lang’s aggressive playing style earned her the nickname “Iron Hammer”, and she remains one of the sport’s most revered icons and a symbol of the never-say-die spirit of the Chinese team that claimed five consecutive world titles and Olympic gold in the 1980s.
But starting in the mid-90s, player retirements and frequent coaching changes curtailed the team’s success until Lang’s return in 2013.
“When I decided to come back I never considered any negatives, or what I should take from my playing career. I just want to take full responsibility for the team when they lose, and not take all the credit when they win,” said the 55-year-old. “I’m giving all I have.”
“We are really honored to fight alongside such a respectable figure like coach Lang. We will do our best to win the gold for her,” said middle blocker Yuan Xinyue.
Coach Lang Ping is all smiles as she hugs Yan Ni after China’s 31 victory over the Netherlands in their volleyball semifinal on Thursday. China faces Serbia in Saturday’s final.