China’s relay team wins belated Olympic bronze

Society & Culture

Nearly a year after the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the Chinese track and field team is awarded its first-ever relay medal.

China’s 4x100m relay team claimed a first-ever Olympic relay medal last week after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the team of Sū Bǐngtiān 苏炳添, Xiè Zhènyè 谢震业, Wú Zhìqiáng 吴智强, and Tāng Xīngqiáng 汤星强 has been promoted from fourth to third in a race originally run on August 6, 2021 during Tokyo 2020.

The announcement came after Great Britain, which initially took silver, was disqualified following a positive drug test result for CJ Ujah. That test result came back on February 18, but the reallocation of the medals was confirmed only last Thursday. The decision means that Canada, which originally took bronze, will be awarded silver.

China’s finish at the Tokyo 2020 Games came via a national record-equaling 37.79. That race was one of the most memorable relays in recent Olympic history, featuring a stunning victory by Italy, the first in that country’s history.

Tokyo 2020 saw Su Bingtian also break the Asian men’s 100m record. He became only the second-ever Asian man, after Takayoshi Yoshioka in 1932, to reach an Olympic 100m final, following his record-breaking 9.83-second run in the semifinal. Su eventually finished sixth in the final.

“It was a big surprise when I saw the news this morning,” Su said on Friday after learning about the relay bronze. “The first Olympic men’s 4x100m relay medal for China means a lot to us. I know it was not easy. I feel so proud of the team. The honor belongs to my motherland, my friend and my team.

“This is the first step. As for the future, I believe more and more young Chinese sprinters will mount the Olympic podium in their own ways, I believe more Chinese athletes will do everything they can to gain honor for their homeland. Go, Chinese athletics team!”


China volleyball team targets VNL refresh

Cai Bin during his last stint as women’s volleyball head coach, 2009

China’s women’s volleyball team will be looking to put behind its disappointing Tokyo Olympics at the Volleyball Nations League, which officially begins on May 31.

Head coach Cai Bin, who replaced legendary coach Láng Píng 郎平 following the Tokyo pool stage exit, will be without the services of star player Zhū Tíng 朱婷 and fellow Rio gold medalist Zhāng Chángníng 张常宁.

Despite missing the experienced hands of Zhu and Zhang, Cai has been reluctant to blood any youngsters at the tournament, instead relying on experience in the short term.

While Cai would have been keen to give some of the younger athletes a chance, the 55-year-old has been forced to take the safer option due to the VNL being part of the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying process.

“On the one hand, we need to provide chances to the inexperienced, but on the other hand, we have to get a good result (at VNL). I need to balance them,” Cai said last week.

“If the outcome of VNL is not linked to the Olympic qualification, I will send more young players to the court. We have some talents in the team, but they need time to grow. The VNL matches are going to be the chance for them to mature, therefore the young players need to put up more effort in the training camp to gear up their skills and form.”

The Chinese women’s volleyball team has traditionally been China’s best international team when compared to other major team sports, such as soccer and basketball. But China struggled at Tokyo 2020, losing to Turkey, Russia, and the U.S.

The performance at the Olympics rounded off a disappointing 2021 that saw the team fail to reach the finals in last year’s VNL. The team has been cut off from international competition since the outbreak of COVID, and hasn’t won any major tournaments since the 2019 World Cup.

Cai, who returns to his post after a short stint as head coach in 2009, will have the largest of shoes to fill after Lang’s exit.

During her last tenure as coach, which stretched from 2013 to 2021, Lang coached the national team to two World Cup golds and the Olympic gold in Rio, as well as winning a silver and bronze in the World Championships. In her first stint as national team coach between 1995 to 1998, Lang coached China to World Cup bronze and a World Championship and Olympic silver.


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