National shooting team coach Du Li, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, says the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated preparations for the delayed Tokyo Olympics. [Photo/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]
China's Olympic shooting champion Du Li is embracing major challenges in her coaching career as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to complicate preparations for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.
"It is quite difficult to prepare for the Games during the pandemic," admitted Du, head coach of China's rifle team, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Saturday.
"There is so much uncertainty ahead. I never thought that I would encounter so many problems in my first Olympic cycle as a coach. It's a big challenge for me."
Du, who is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), says the team has adjusted its preparation plan since Tokyo 2020 was postponed for one year, and has been training behind closed doors since the COVID-19 outbreak.
"One of the main problems is that we don't have official events. It is quite inconvenient," Du explained.
"Without competitions, athletes find it hard to adjust their form in training. For more than a year, they only participated in several national trials, which cannot be put on a par with international competitions such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games.
"Despite the athletes' results in training, there is still much uncertainty going into events."
The Chinese national shooting squad is training in Putian, Fujian province. Two trials were staged prior to Chinese New Year, with a third about to begin. Du revealed that a fourth and final trial at the end of March will be arranged and will serve as an Olympic Games-style simulation.
And with competing abroad still a risky business due to the pandemic, the team plans to stage several test events in China.
"Some young athletes stood out in the trials despite lacking event experience, and a few of them have participated in quite a few national competitions, which means they need events to test themselves," Du said.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist hopes her shooters can achieve good results at the Olympics.
As a member of the athletes' committee of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG), Du added that she was looking forward to the winter sports gala, which will take place in less than a year.
"The Winter Olympics has attracted widespread attention. It is a major event for sports people and an extravaganza for sports fans," Du added.
"I hope that Beijing 2022 will be a truly exceptional Games just like the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games."
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