x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

China hoping to strike gold

China are aiming to win more gold medals at next month's Beijing Games than the 32 they won at the last Olympics in Athens.

Can China better their gold medal tally of 2004?
Can China better their gold medal tally of 2004?

BEIJING // China are aiming to win more gold medals during next month's Beijing Games than the 32 they won at the last Olympics in Athens, their officials said yesterday. China finished second behind the United States (36 golds) but officials have been playing down their chances of overtaking the Americans despite home advantage and the heavy investment in training potential winners.

"The charm of elite sport is its uncertainty," Zhang Haifeng, a spokesman for the Chinese sports ministry, told a news conference. "We do have a target, that is to rank among the top nations in the medals table. "We managed that with 32 gold medals in Athens and we hope to do better in Beijing." Zhang's colleagues have pointed to China's weakness in swimming and athletics, in which the 110m hurdler Liu Xiang is the only real title contender, and he agreed it would be tough to beat the Athens tally.

"It is difficult to realise this target because our rivals are so strong but our athletes will follow the Olympic maxim of 'faster, higher, stronger' and will give their all to get as good a result as possible." The vice sports minister Feng Jianzhong said he hoped the athletes would show "good moral standards" and added it was a matter of "the more, the better" in terms of how many medals they won.

"All our athletes and coaches in our sports community are well-prepared," he said. "We started early, we have been very attentive to detail, our work is comprehensive and progress has been made." China will have its largest delegation for any Olympics at the August 8-24 Games with more than 600 athletes. * Reuters