Badminton Life

Xie Eager to Grab Her Olympic Chance

China's world number one Xie Xingfang is determined to make the most of her rare chance to win an Olympic gold medal.

Xie, top seed for the Beijing Olympics, was not selected for the Athens Games four years ago, having been a victim of China's vast strength in depth.

However, since then she has stormed to the top of the world rankings and the Chinese selectors had no choice but to pick her.

At 27 years old, she knows that this could be her first and only chance to win the gold medal in the women's singles competition.

"My goal is clear and simple, the gold medal in the women's singles," she was quoted as saying in local media. "I know it is my last chance."

Xie's quest for gold is spiced up by the fact that she is dating men's world number one Lin Dan. The duo are hoping to emulate Indonesia's golden couple of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Allan Budi Kusuma and Susi Susanti.

Xie is only able to challenge for the singles title because of coach Li Yongbo. She won the world junior doubles title with Zhang Jiewen in 1998. However, Li spotted her singles potential and convinced her to switch disciplines.

Meanwhile, romanced blossomed between her and Lin, who said their relationship kept them strong during the disappointment of Athens, when Xie failed to make the team and Lin suffered an early defeat.

Indeed, Lin didn't even think she would make it to the Beijing squad.

"I thought she might not be able to go on until 2008," Lin said. "It took great courage and motivation for her to make it."

Her recovery took only one year as she swept to the top of the world rankings in April, 2005 after winning six tournaments. And she credits Lin with helping her through the tough times.

"I can share my pressure with him," she said of Lin. "He is the kind of person that exerts himself to the utmost. After watching him play, I have become a bit more aggressive.

"After the Olympics I can finally live the life I really want to with holidays, studying and marriage ... I am really looking forward to it. I just want to be the woman who cooks soup for Dan after the Games."

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