MVP Zhu Ting celebrates Chinese team spirit
China's Zhu Ting was grateful for her teammates' efforts
Also a recipient of the Best Outside Hitter award and one of two Chinese players voted into the tournament's Dream Team, alongside libero Li Lin, she said: "I think teamwork is the key to China’s victory. Thanks to my teammates’ hard efforts, I had the opportunity to show my spiking skills."
Serbia pushed China into four sets in the final on Saturday, but despite close finishes in sets three and four, the Asian team controlled their nerves to remain in control at the key moments of the match. Speaking about her ability to perform under pressure, Zhu highlighted coach Lang Ping's emphasis on staying focused: "I am also very nervous during the match, while Jenny [Lang Ping] told us to focus on every point."
And despite receiving the tournament's top accolades, Zhu sees room for improvement. "I can jump high and hit hard, but I need to improve my skills in receiving and defence."
China's ambitions were high as they entered the Olympic tournament, and managing the pressures linked to those expectations was also key to the team's strong performance. "At the athletes village, I share a room with Xu Yunli, a three-time Olympian, and she gave me a lot of advice after training. When I had ups and downs, she would talk to me and help me release the pressure," said Zhu.
And the Chinese player's ability to shrug off pressure is likely to serve her well as she prepares to join Vakıfbank Istanbul in the Turkish league. "I am looking forward to playing in the Turkish league next season. My future teammates will include Kimberly Hill of USA, the Netherlands’ No. 10 Lonneke Slöetjes [voted the Olympic tournament's Best Opposite] and Serbia’s middle blocker Milena Rasic [also a Dream Team player, receiving the Best Middle Blocker award]. We will make a strong team and I think I can learn a lot from the experience in Turkey."
China coach Lang Ping celebrates winning gold in Rio after leading the team to victory at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup in 2015
China coach Lang Ping, who has seen Zhu develop into one of the world's top players, believes her team's star outside hitter will continue to develop her skills in Turkey. "It’s good for her to go abroad and have some experience playing and communicating with international players," she said.
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