Former women's badminton world No. 1 Zhou Mi has started training with the
Hong Kong team in a bid to extend her Olympic presence after being waived from
China's international team.
Chinese media reported that Zhou has been training in Hong Kong since
New Year's Day and has obtained permission to stay for one year through an
elites importing plan of the Special Administrative Region.
Zhou placed third in the 2004 Athens Olympics and champion of the 2002 Fusan
Asian Games, but left China's international team in May of 2005 because of
severe knee injuries.
Zhou explained that the desire for an Olympic medal pushed her back into
badminton and choosing Hong Kong means she can still play as a Chinese.
But a trip to badminton powerhouse Malaysia last May caused problems for Zhou
as domestic media speculated she might trade her nationality for Olympic
Though long absent from the training field, Zhou's participating in Hong Kong
still was a cause of worry after former mainland player Wang Chen led the SAR
team in breaking out of China's block to achieve a 1-2 at the women's singles in
the Doha Asian Games.
Like Zhou, Wang left for Hong Kong in 1999 after finding little hope to
become a heroine on China's international team.
Li Yongbo, China's coach in chief, however, played down the possibility of
Zhou ruining China's chance at gold in the women's singles in 2008.
"She's training with the Hong Kong team but cannot represent Hong Kong,"
Li said. "Her injuries are too much of a problem for her to be a threat.""
According to the rules of the International Badminton Federation(IBF), Zhou
would normally need a three-year residence in a region before being able to
represent it in important competitions like the world championships and the
Olympic Games, but if the International Olympic Committee, IBF and China raise
no objections, she may start amassing points to obtain Olympic qualification by
"Since she had left badminton for a year and had to begin with an elementary
level of competition, it's become very hard for her to obtain enough points to
qualify for the Beijing Olympics," said Tang Xuehua, coach of the China women's