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China: Topping US in medals 'impossible'
(AP/China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-11 07:17

China acknowledged it has no chance of winning more medals than the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Associated Press reported.

"It is impossible," Cui Dalin, assistant sports minister and vice president of China's Olympic Committee, said Thursday. "Elite sports in the U.S. are very strong."

China finished second in gold medals and third in the overall tally at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Last month, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said he wouldn't be surprised if the host nation led the medal standings in Beijing.

But Cui, speaking on the eve of the 1,000-day countdown to the games, dismissed any suggestions the Chinese could overtake the United States and Russia as the top Olympic power in 2008 or in the near future.

China had 32 gold medals and 63 overall in Athens for its best finish. The United States won 35 gold and 103 total while Russia had 27 and 92. While the Americans won just three more golds than China, Cui noted they had 40 more overall.

"The U.S. is the elite sports power in the world," he said. "The difference is obvious."

Russia won 29 more medals than China but six fewer gold.

Cui said China expects to increase its medal count in Beijing, but declined to make a prediction. The country reportedly has set a goal of 110 medals.

Cui said China should be considered below the United States and Russia in a second tier of Olympic nations along with Australia, Japan, Germany and France.

"For some sports we are still not at a high level," he said. "We know there is still quite a big difference between us and the big sports powers in the world."

Cui said China lags in track and field, swimming, sailing, rowing, canoeing, basketball, soccer and volleyball. China will concentrate on improving its medal totals in other sports, including badminton, table tennis, diving, shooting, gymnastics and weightlifting, he said.

More than 2,000 Chinese athletes are training for the Beijing Games, and more than 400 eventually will be selected for the team, Cui said.

Foreign coaches, including Russians, are assisting Chinese athletes. But Cui denied China and Russia were working together with the aim of topping the U.S. medal total.

"We have never thought about collaborating with the Russian team against any other team," he said.

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