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Chinese fledgling shuttler Li enjoys comfortable start on her first Olympic trip

07-29-2012 00:11 BJT

LONDON, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese shuttler Li Xuerui beat her rival without too much difficulty on Saturday, the first day of the London Olympics, in the Wembley Arena. The victory pushed her one step forward to realizing her Olympic dream.

Li's rival, Claudia Rivero from Peru, was ranked 95th in the world, leaving the third seed Li little pressure in the competition. She hence proved her capacity with two short sets of 21-5 of 21-6.

"I did better than I thought," said the 21-year-old from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. About 1.74 meters' all, Li impressed people with her childlike smile that didn't seem to tally with her height.

"I am not familiar with the opponent, so at the beginning I lapsed a bit," she said. "Fortunately I managed to relax myself soon and won at last."

Li's coach Zhang Ning was apparently satisfied with the girl's performance. "I have always told them not to impose too heavy a burden on themselves."

Li garnered world reputation only this year, upsetting her top-ranked compatriot Wang Yihan to win the All England champion this March. On a four-tournament winning streak in the past four months, she edged away Asian Games gold medalist Wang Shixian to book an Olympic ticket, which made quite a stir in China.

Grouped with Rivero and Carolina Marin from Spain this time, Li needs yet another good performance so as to march into the round of 16. Li's last encounter with Marin was at the Victor Korea Open 2012 at the beginning of this year, when she defeated the latter 16-21, 21-17 and 21-19. Test on Sunday evening could be tougher.

"Every point counts and I will definitely do my best," she said.

Talking about the court in the Wembley Arena, Li said she liked it. "The shuttlecock seems to be flying slowly here," she said. "The pink color is so beautiful that I don't feel like competiting in the Olympic arena."

But she felt the Olympic atmosphere any way. "When I walked outside a couple of days ago, I saw the torch relay," beamed the player in joy. "I hope that I could have chance to walk around after the competitions and take some photos at the scenic sites, such as the London Eye."

At the mix zone, Li Xuerui got a surprise when the Chongqing Morning Business Journal, a newspaper from her hometown, presented her a gift. It was a banner bearing the characters as "Xiongqi", a colloquial expression in Chongqing for "rise up".

"Li is our pride and we are collecting signatures now to wish her good luck," said a man with the newspaper. "Now we have got signatures from her mom and coach. Hopefully we can get 2012 signatures."

Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: Xinhua

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