The gymnastics staff seems diminished from the glory days of Beijing 2008. That yr, China gained 11 golds out of the 18 on supply, 9 greater than each the U.S. and Russia.
Quick ahead to Rio de Janeiro eight years later, when China gained only a measly silver and 4 bronzes. Prospects for the gymnastics staff haven’t improved a lot since then. The newest Gymnastics World Championships in 2019 noticed China as soon as once more get shut out from gold, selecting up simply three silvers.
Throughout the pandemic, Chinese language gymnasts have been largely locked up in a perpetual coaching camp. They didn’t take part in any World Cup occasions, in both inventive or rhythmic occasions.
China’s greatest gold medal hope comes from Gāo Lěi 高磊, the trampoline king. Whereas China has struggled to attain massive in trampoline gymnastics as a staff, Gao Lei stays essentially the most dominant male athlete within the scene.
Gao has gained the person gold at each single World Championship since 2015, together with his solely blemish being a bronze in Rio. Now firmly at his peak, the 29-year-old arrives in Tokyo as China’s high (and maybe solely) gymnastics gold-medal hope.
Inventive gymnastics begins on July 24 and runs by till August 4, whereas rhythmic gymnastics takes place from August 6 to eight. Gao and the trampoline gymnasts begin their marketing campaign on July 29, ending on July 31. The Ariake Gymnastics Middle will host all occasions.
Whereas the medal prospects of the gymnasts look faint, the identical can’t be mentioned for the weightlifting staff, by which China is dominant on the decrease weight lessons. The boys’s staff of Lǐ Fābīn 李发彬 (61kg), Chén Lìjūn 谌利军 (67kg), Shí Zhìyǒng 石智勇 (73kg), and Lǚ Xiǎojūn 吕小军 (81kg) are all the present world champions, with Li, Shi, and Lu presently holding world information.
The feminine staff may also be simply as assured as the boys, regardless of the absence of Rio gold-medalist Dèng Wēi 邓薇 (64kg) and world-record holder at 55kg Jiǎng Huìhuā 蒋惠花, who’re each out with accidents. The group consists of Hóu Zhìhuì 侯志慧 (49kg), Liào Qiūyún 廖秋云 (55kg), Wāng Zhōuyǔ 汪周雨 (87kg), and Lǐ Wénwén 李雯雯(87kg).
Count on every of the Chinese language weightlifting athletes to come back away with a medal.
Weightlifting begins on July 24 and runs till August 4 on the Tokyo Worldwide Discussion board.
The purpose for Workforce China in diving is sort of easy: win each gold.
It might sound boastful, however you gained’t discover many individuals betting towards them.
Within the ladies’s occasions, Shī Tíngmào 施廷懋and Zhāng Jiāqí 张家齐are the 2 stars. Double Rio champion Shi is more likely to proceed her supremacy from the 3m springboard.
Zhang, in the meantime, makes her Olympic debut. Competing within the 10m platform, the 17-year-old world champion is aware of that a number of strain will probably be on her shoulders. Backing her up is the youngest member of China’s 431 athletes in Tokyo, Quán Hóngchán 全红婵. At simply 14, Quan will probably be competing within the 10m platform and the 10m synchronized alongside Zhang.
On the boys’s aspect, the duo of Chén Àisēn 陈艾森and Cáo Yuán 曹缘 are anticipated to defend their golds at 3m and 10m. For Chen, the most important impediment is Nice Britain’s Tom Daley, who lately returned to type, profitable the world championship at 10m in Might — an occasion that Chen was absent from.
Diving begins on July 25 with the ladies’s synchronized occasions and finishes on August 7 with the boys’s 10m platform.
The most important story for China badminton at Tokyo is the absence of Tremendous Dan, Lín Dān 林丹, who gained two golds at Rio. One of many victims of the delay to the Video games, the 37-year-old referred to as it quits final summer time.
Whereas a fifth Olympic look wasn’t to be for Lin, defending Rio champion Chén Lóng 谌龙 will probably be at Tokyo. Nonetheless, a decline in type within the final 5 years has seen the bookies put Chen Lengthy as a relative outsider at +800. The favourite for the boys’s occasion is the house star Kento Momota (+160), the defending world champion, who is likely one of the faces of Japan’s Olympic staff. He may have raucous assist from the house crowd.
The ladies’s aspect is as open as ever. Chén Yǔfēi 陈雨菲 is China’s greatest likelihood of profitable gold, however she’ll be up towards the extremely achieved Tai Tzu-Ying of Taiwan and Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.
The badminton match runs from July 24 to August 2 on the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.
China are the favorites to comb the gold medals as soon as once more in ping-pong. Nonetheless, the menace to China’s superiority has by no means been higher.
China has Mǎ Lóng 马龙, world No. 1 Fán Zhèndōng 樊振东, and world No. 4 Xǔ Xīn 许昕within the singles competitors. All three can moderately count on to make the semifinals. However don’t be stunned if Japan’s up-and-coming Tomokazu Harimoto emerges as champion.
The 18-year-old is probably the most important problem to Chinese language ping-pong gamers since Athens 2004, when Wáng Hào 王皓 misplaced within the last to Korean Ryu Seung-min. With an ITTF World Tour Grand Last title on the age of 15 and quite a few tour victories on his resume, the third-ranked Harimoto, with the backing of the house crowd, might pull an upset.
Japan additionally presents essentially the most important menace to China within the ladies’s recreation. China’s Chén Mèng 陈梦and Sūn Yǐngshā 孙颖莎 will probably be pressed by Mima Ito, who’s ranked second behind Chen. The 2 very nicely might meet in a last, which might be among the best matchups in your complete Video games.
Within the males’s doubles, it’s a South Korean duo — Lee Sangsu and Jeong Youngsik — that’s presently ranked first globally, by some margin.
Ping-pong begins with the person competitors on July 24, with the ladies’s and males’s finals on July 29 and 30, earlier than the match strikes on to the staff occasions, ending on August 6.
China is not the staff it as soon as was within the capturing area. Regardless of constant medals within the ISSF World Cup since 2016, China has slipped behind India, Italy, and Germany.
Nonetheless, with so many occasions and medals on supply, China will in all probability win at the least one gold.
Xióng Yàxuān 熊亚瑄 is the choose of the bunch. The 24-year-old bagged her place in Tokyo in March by breaking the 25m pistol report by 4 hits. Her important rival, earlier record-holder Veronika Main from Hungary, has been among the best within the self-discipline for the previous few years, alongside defending champion Anna Korakaki from Greece. The 25m pistol occasion could possibly be extraordinarily shut.
The capturing occasions run from July 23 to August 2. The ladies’s 25m pistol takes place on July 30.
Different athletes to regulate
The ladies’s volleyball staff gained gold in Rio in dramatic vogue, led by head coach (and volleyball hero) Láng Píng 郎平. A depleted aspect disenchanted within the first half of the latest Volleyball Nations League, however after Zhū Tíng 朱婷 and Yuán Xīnyuè 袁心玥 returned to the fold for second half, China went on a six-game unbeaten streak earlier than lacking out on a semifinal spot.
Workforce captain Zhu will probably be China’s first feminine flag-bearer when the staff marches out on the Opening Ceremony on July 23.
The volleyball match begins on July 24, with the ladies’s last going down on the ultimate day of the Video games, August 8.
Taekwondo practitioner and Rio gold medalist Zhào Shuài 赵帅 would be the different flag-bearer. He faces a brand new problem at Tokyo. Regardless of profitable gold at 58kg in Rio, Zhao has moved as much as 68kg. At present ranked third on the planet behind Korea’s Lee Dae-hoon and Britain’s Bradly John Sinden, Zhao will probably be competing in his first worldwide occasion since 2019. With out high-level competitors, it could possibly be a tough ask for Zhao to shake off the ring rust on the most important stage, but when anybody can do it, it’s Zhao.
Zhao will go for gold on July 25.
China additionally has good bets in rowing. Regulate the double sculls pair of Zhāng Liàng 张亮 and Liú Zhìyǔ 刘治宇. The present world champions are coached by Sir Steve Redgrave, one of many biggest rowers within the sport, and since his arrival, the pair have carried out at a better stage. Nonetheless, like so many Chinese language Olympians, the couple has not had elite competitors for greater than a yr.
The China Sports activities Column runs each week on SupChina.