China’s ‘spiker’ helps set things up now

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN in Bei­jing sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

RI­CARDO MORAES / REUTERS

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.

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