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China Daily Global / 2020-03 / 26 / Page016


China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-03-26 00:00

With age no longer on their side, the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until next year poses major challenges for China's veteran athletes, whose chances of glory are now looking slimmer


Liu Hong had planned to retire to become a full-time mom after defending her Olympic 20km race walk title this summer, so is now unsure of her plans. "One more year on the road will be extremely tough," the 32-year-old told on Tuesday.



Reigning Olympic and world champion Ma Long, 31, will be among the hot favorites for gold in Tokyo next year. However, having seen his dominance diminished by a left knee injury, the postponement could well suit his younger rivals more.



It seems likely that the legendary Lin Dan will retire without realizing his dream of reaching a fifth Olympics. Even though badminton's qualifying process could be extended, it remains a long shot for the 36-year-old to make the Tokyo Games.



As the nation's most successful ball-sport team, the Chinese women's volleyball squad could probably do with an injection of youth as it seeks to retain its title at next year's rescheduled Tokyo Games. Superstar spiker Zhu Ting, 25, still has a long career ahead of her, however some of the team's other core players, including 30-year-old starting setter Ding Xia and 33-year-old second spiker Yan Ni, face a tough challenge to remain in prime physical condition for another year. Yet the postponement will allow for a longer training program under the guidance of legendary coach Lang Ping (pictured above with her players) and potentially offer more opportunities for the squad's younger talent to step up their game. REUTERS



With basketball's Olympic qualifying tournament in June expected to be rescheduled, the Chinese men's team is at least set to have more time to prepare. However, captain Yi Jianlian (pictured above with CBA chairman Yao Ming) and his squad will still not be fancied to book one of the four Tokyo tickets up for grabs at the 24-team qualifying event.



Aiming for a third Olympic taekwondo gold medal at her fourth Games, 32-year-old mother Wu Jingyu seems to have mixed feelings about the postponement of Tokyo 2020. "The No 1 priority is everyone's safety and then comes the success of the Olympics. It seems that my career has to be extended in a way I didn't expect at all," Wu said on Tuesday.



Age is less of a factor in weightlifting than other sports, so 35-year-old Lyu Xiaojun will still be feeling confident about adding to the Olympic gold he pocketed at London 2012. The 10-time world champion remains in the prime of his career after retaining his 81-kilogram title with record lifts at last year's world championships in Thailand.



With his dream of qualifying for his first Olympic 100m final on hold, Su Bingtian will remain hopeful of breaking his Asian-record 9.91 seconds, which he shares with Femi Ogunode, in Tokyo next year. However, with other major championships overlapping with the rescheduled Games, a grueling season awaits for the 30-year-old.



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