Chinese coach puts team on guard against complacency

Chinese coach puts team on guard against complacency

Li Yangbao

Favourites to win the men’s and women’s singles titles, they inspire awe and admiration at the same time.

The credit for China’s stupendous success goes to their coach for over a decade, Li Yangbao. The media-shy 47-year-old is easily one of the most successful coaches in the world, having seen his wards win everything in sight. Yet, his modesty is striking. “I have had success, no doubt, but what I have achieved is very little. My responsibility is to promote and develop the game across China,” he said.

China might be the obvious favourites to claim a major share of the medals, but Li cautioned against complacency. “Each player must play to the levels expected. Since China has done so well over a period of time, people always talk about us. But let me tell you one thing -- the World Championships are big but they are held every year. Events like the Olympics come once in four years. So there is more motivation for us to win the Olympics,” he pointed out.

On the rivalry between world number one Lee Chong Wei and top Chinese Lin Dan, Li had this to say: “It depends on who does better on the day. If Lin does not play to his potential, then Lee will probably win.”

Wei and Lin are expected to meet in the semifinals in a top-heavy draw. “If the top half is heavy with the top players, then we can do nothing about it. But whichever stage they meet, it should be great game.

“On the other hand, the women’s field is more open. There is Zhou Mi (Hong Kong), Tine Rasmussen (Denmark) and Pi Hongyan (France). Many of those have migrated from China. It will be interesting to watch what happens.”

Asked about India’s top woman player Saina Nehwal’s threat to Chinese domination, Li said: “Saina has kept up the Indian tradition. Earlier, it was Prakash Padukone, then Pullela Gopichand and now it is Saina. I hope India do well,” he signed off.

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