Badminton Life

Zhang Makes Successful Coaching Debut

Double Olympic champion Zhang Ning made a successful debut as coach with the China national team after presiding over the China Open Super Series over the weekend.

Zhang retired as a player after winning her second straight Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games in August.

The 33-year-old now looks after the women's singles players in the Chinese national team and, if the China Open is anything to go by, her first tournament in charge was a resounding success.

Six of the eight women's singles quarter-finalists at the China Open were from China. All four semi-finalists were under Zhang's charge with Jiang Yanjiao going on to win the title.

National coach Li Yongbo said he was delighted with Zhang's performance in her debut tournament and looks forward to her having a bright future as a coach.

He was quoted as saying: "She officially became our coach on Nov 16 and over the past week I think she performed very well. She is very professional and observes each game in the venue and during training.

"I believe that Zhang Ning will become a very good coach in passing down her experiences in two Olympics."

For Zhang, she is using the same tactics as coach in inspiring her players as her coaches would apply to her when she was a player.

It involves winning so the coaches can take a holiday.

"In the past, I would tell my coach that I would win tomorrow's game so that he can go for a holiday after the game. Now, I would tell my players to give me a holiday," Zhang said.

Zhang, a former world champion, won her first Olympic title at the Athens Games in 2004 when she defeated the Netherlands' Indonesian-born Mia Audina in three games.

By the time the Beijing Olympics had come around, Zhang was no longer the force she once was with Xie Xingfang the new star of Chinese badminton.

Xie was the top seed and also girlfriend of leading men's player Lin Dan. It was the hope of all Chinese and the two would become a "golden couple" by winning gold in their respective events.

While Lin duly obliged, Zhang had other plans for Xie, stunning the crowd with a three-game win. As a reward for her victory, Zhang was also asked to carry the Chinese flag during the closing ceremony for the Games.

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