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August 6, 2009

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Home » Sports » Athletics

Zhou, Zhang shoulder hopes

CHINA is sending a total of 32 athletes - 12 men and 20 women - at the world championships in Berlin later this month with women's marathon runner Zhou Chunxiu and women's hammer thrower Zhang Wenxiu carrying the nation's hopes of a medal.

It is the smallest Chinese squad for the world championships in the past 10 years.

"To tell you the truth, this is the most difficult world championships since 2001," Feng Shuyong, the general coach of the Chinese national team, said in Beijing yesterday.

"I hope that we can win a medal in Berlin."

The world championships will be held in the German capital from August 15-23.

Feng also said that Liu Xiang will not defend his 110m hurdles title as he is still recovering from his foot surgery.

"Liu Xiang's recovery process is on schedule, but he is not ready to compete at the world championships," Feng said.

Liu pulled out of the Beijing Olympic Games last year.

Zhou, the 2007 London marathon winner, won silver at the last world championships in Osaka, Japan, and bronze at the Beijing Olympic Games. Zhang, who is competing in her fifth world championships, won a bronze in Beijing.

China's other medal hopefuls are Wang Hao in the men's 20-km walk and Song Aimin in the women's discus throw.

China won 51 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics but none of them came from track and field. It could only manage two bronze medals.

Chinese swimmers brought home four gold medals from the just-concluded world swimming championships in Rome, which has put extra pressure on the athletes.

"We have been encouraged by the swimmers," Feng said. "We will learn from them."

Zhang Lin, who became China's first male swimmer to win a gold medal at any worlds or Olympic Games, has drawn comparisons to Liu Xiang after winning the 800m freestyle in Rome.

"Zhang was really great," Feng said. "His feat was remarkable."


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