China curbs medal appetite ahead of London 2012

Members of the Chinese team pose with their gold medals on the podium after winning the men's team artistic gymnastics final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (Reuters / Mike Blake)
The glorious years seem to have passed. Chinese sporting official, Cai Zhenhua, says the country’s athletes are unlikely to repeat their Beijing 2008 success at the Olympic Games in London.

­"The number of our medals in London will be reduced,” Zhenhua said in Beijing. “We are waiting for serious challenges at the summer Olympics in 2012. It will be a very difficult affair for us. So far, it’s Team USA, who lead in the number of medals, and countries like Russia and the UK make more investment into sports. Meanwhile, China isn’t very competitive in some disciplines.”

The Chinese topped the medals count at its home Olympics in 2008, claiming 51 gold and 100 medals in total.  

But Zhenhua stressed the many of the Beijing heroes have already quit sports and the main hope now lies in younger athletes, most of whom aren’t yet ready to challenge the world’s best.   

“Our primary goal is to be among the leading nations in the number of gold medals at the upcoming Summer Olympics,” the official concluded.  

China will send 380 athletes to the Games, which kick off in London on July 27.

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