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Chinese judokas set sight on heavyweight classes

07-09-2012 10:34 BJT Special Report:2012 London Olympic Games |

By Sportswriter Ma Xiangfei

BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese judokas may not be able to repeat their feat at the Beijing Olympic Games four years ago but should be capable of maintaining their hold on the heavyweight classes in London.

China won three gold and a bronze in Beijing's judo event, their best result ever in any Olympics.

With the 52kg winner Xian Dongmei retiring after the Games, +78kg queen Tong Wen and Yang Xiuli of 78kg were left to lead a group of Olympic debutants to defend their titles in London.

Eight judokas will be sent to the July 27-August 12 Games as Wu Shugen in the 48kg is the only other athlete who had made an appearance in Beijing. She lost to Japan's Ryoko Tani in the second round then.

Spearheading the team, Tong was considered favorite for the heaviest class of women's judo event in London.

"Tong Wen stands out among her peers both physically and psychologically. She is also the most experienced in the team," said vice president of China's judo association Xue Lian.

The 29-year-old Tong produced a strong comeback show in May last year, capturing Moscow Grand Slam victory after the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) cleared her of doping in February.

Tong staged dominant performances in the following Paris world championships, winning her fifth straight world title with ippons in all the six rounds.

Tong's coach Wu Weifeng pinned high hopes on her protege.

"No one can be sure of winning but Tong is definitely working toward this goal. For us, a runner-up finish means total defeat," she said.

But Xue was more cautious and afraid that Tong has to bear too much pressure for the Chinese team.

"Surprises happen once you make careless mistakes. Tong needs to be very careful," said Xue. "She also has to cope with a lot of pressure mounting on her."

Unlike Tong who attracted much of the media attention, Yang Xiuli appeared to be low key as the 29-year-old has been dealing with a recurrent shoulder injury which made her competition on and off in the past couple of years.

Yang resumed competing late last year with a gold medal in Qingdao Grand Prix and a silver from Almaty Masters early this year. She also finished runner-up to American Kayla Harrison, 2010 Tokyo world champion, in Dusseldorf Grand Prix in February.

"Yang is in high spirit now. She wants a good fight in London," said Xue.

Whereas Yang's coach Liu Yongfu pointed out that Yang needs to solve a psychological problem first.

"Because of the Beijing victory, she has burden now. She wants to win and fears that she can't finish her task (of defending the 78kg title)," Liu said in an interview with China's Central Television.

Besides Tong and Yang, Xue did not rule his other athletes out of the medal projections.

"I think we have some medal hopes in the 48kg, 52kg and 63kg," he said. "I mean they all had some good results in international events, which proved that they have the ability (to win a medal)."

Wu took the 48kg title in 2010 Asian Games while He Hongmei pulled off a World Cup victory in the 52kg in Sofia this year. Xue Lili came third in last year's Moscow Grand Slam.

Chinese squad

Women

+78kg Tong Wen

78kg Yang Xiuli

70kg Chen Fei

63kg Xu Lili

57kg Wang Hui

52kg He Hongmei

48kg Wu Shugen

Men

60kg A Lamusi

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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