Sports / China

Foreign coaches expected to add gloss to China's Rio Olympic delegation

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-21 15:18
BEIJING -- As China unveiled its Rio de Janeiro Olympics delegation, 29 foreign names drew attention in the 711-strong roster.

These foreign coaches mentor Chinese athletes from 17 sports, bringing both expertise and experience to sports like soccer, basketball, fencing, sailing, synchronized swimming and water polo.

China is expecting a haul of gold medals from traditionally strong sports such as table tennis, badminton, gymnastics, weightlifting, shooting and diving in Rio, while hopes are pinned on these foreign coaches to bring more nice surprises.

Frenchman Bruno Bini, 61, is tasked to lead the women's soccer team "Steel Roses" to go into the last eight, or even further, in their first Olympics in eight years.

"When my side enter the elimination stage, we will be looking forward to snatching a medal, " said Bini, who had led France to the last four in both the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics.

After taking over as head coach last September, Bini already guided the girls to snatch a series of morale-boosting friendly victories.

Tom Maher is in his second spell with the Chinese women's basketball team after he coached the team to the last four at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the team's best result in 16 years.

Back in China in 2013, the 64-year-old Australian set a realistic Rio goal of last eight for the team, which were pitted in the group with powerhouse United States, Spain, Serbia, Senegal and Canada.

Chinese women's field hockey team coach Cho Myung-Jun had big shoes to fill in following his fellow South Korean Kim Chang-Back's success in China -- a Champions Trophy crown and Beijing Olympics silver medal.

"My goal is to reach the semifinals and maybe fight for a medal," said the 45-year-old Cho, who is said to be a even tougher coach. "I know it will be difficult for us to achieve the goal. But the team are in a very good form and without any injury problems right now."

Mayuko Fujiki, coach of Chinese synchronized swimming team, told Xinhua she wanted to challenge Russian's domination in the sport in Rio. Her optimism was echoed by Huang Xuechen, silver medalist of solo free at the 2015 Kazan world championships.

"If we can show something new, we may defeat Russians in some competitions. As far as I can see, many teams are catching up with Russians now," said the Japanese.

Frenchman Daniel Levavasseur, coach of Chinese women's epee team, aims to defend the group title and clinch the single's gold in Rio, while Cariocan Ricardo Azevedo, dubbed "water polo godfather", eyes a medal for the team in his hometown.

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