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Women's volleyball team win big at sports personality awards

By Sun Xiaochen | | Updated: 2017-01-16 15:12

Women's volleyball team win big at sports personality awards

Lang Ping, head coach of China's national women's volleyball team, delivers her acceptance speech after being awarded the Coach of the Year at the 2016 CCTV Sports Personality Award in Beijing on Sunday.[Provided by China Sports Photo]

China's national women's volleyball team cemented its highflying status on Sunday by collecting four titles at the annual CCTV Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

Boasting a gold-medal finish at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the women's volleyball team edged out strong competition from the likes of China's all-conquering diving team and table tennis squad to win Team of the Year for 2016 at the ceremony, held at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing.

Dubbed the "Sports Oscars" in China, the awards, which were launched in 2001 by China Central Television, have developed into an annual festival for the country's sporting elite.

A 400-member jury including journalists, scholars, sports officials and executives select five nominees for each of the 10 disciplines in December before a final round of voting takes place ahead of the awards ceremony.

For her role in leading the volleyball team to regain Olympic gold for the first time in 12 years, head coach Lang Ping won the Coach of the Year award, while the team's main attacking player Zhu Ting was awarded the Sportswoman of the Year award for her performance during the team's Rio campaign.

The team also won the Jury Prize, an additional category that honors the greatest contributions to Chinese sports throughout the year.

Lang, who has coached the team since 2013 following an earlier stint from 1995-98, said the journey to the podium in Rio was one of the toughest she had ever experienced.

"I can barely recall the Rio campaign as all the games we played were so hard. I have experienced a lot of ups and downs in my coaching career, but Rio was the most challenging," she said.

"I hope there will be more young talent emerge to keep fighting for the glory of Chinese volleyball."

Lang, who left for the United States straight after the ceremony to undergo surgery on her hip, won her first Olympic gold as China's main spiker (attacking hitter) at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Citing medical reasons, she said she hadn't yet decided whether to extend her coaching role with the team.

China's women's volleyball squad has been held up as model of tenacity and fighting spirit ever since the 1980s, when Lang and her teammates became the first Chinese sports team to be successful on a global scale.

Hui Ruoqi, captain of the current squad, attributed the team's success to the inner strength of each player.

"In an era where changes constantly happen in our every day lives and many things fade away with time, we are proud to be able to rekindle the fighting spirit and faith in hard work embodied by the team," she said.

Other high-profile winners at the awards included table tennis player Ma Long, men's singles champion at the Rio Olympics, who won Sportsman of the Year, and China's track cycling pair Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi, who were handed the Breakthrough of the Year award for winning the country's first cycling Olympic gold medal in the women's team sprint.

Meanwhile, female diver Ren Qian won Newcomer of the Year, diving combo Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao won Combination of the Year and professional boxer Zou Shiming won Non-Olympic Sportsman of the Year.

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