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Diving Prince may assume official post
By Yu Yilei (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-24 06:52

Tian Liang, the Chinese Olympic diving champion, can score a perfect 10 on the platform.

He will now try to get a high score on another platform after the 26-year-old was unofficially named a candidate for a post in Shaanxi Provincial Sports Administration.

The diver, former national team core member, is likely to become deputy director of the swimming centre of the Shaanxi Provincial Sports Administration. The administration started to solicit public opinion on Tian's possible appointment on Thursday.

"Tian can be officially appointed only if nobody opposes it," according to administration sources.

Tian, who is preparing for China's 10th National Games to be held in Nanjing of East China's Jiangsu Province next month, is not available for comments but his coach Zhang Ting said Tian is very likely to take the post. The final decision on his appointment will be made after the National Games.

If Tian successfully assumes the position, he will become the second diver after Xiong Ni to go into provincial sports administration.

Xiong, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, retired from diving after the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was named president of the provincial sports institute in Central China's Hunan Province.

Unlike Xiong who went to the new post after retirement, Tian's possible appointment does not mean he will shift his focus from diving, in which he has previously won two Olympic gold medals. The talented diver is now working hard to get back into the national team since he was expelled from the squad in January for taking part in too many commercial activities.

Top diver Guo Jingjing, who won two gold medals in the Athens Games, encountered a similar situation but was allowed back in the team after making an apology.

Tian, dubbed the "Diving Prince," played a pivotal role in the national team from the late 1990s to the 2004 Olympics. He won a gold medal in the synchronized 10-metre platform event and bronze in the individual event in Athens. He also won the 10-metre platform title at the 2000 Sydney Games.

A good result in the coming National Games is likely to help him get back into the national team.

"Whatever Tian plans for the future, he will not put his attention on it (the possible appointment) right now," said Zhang.

Zhang revealed Tian's ultimate goal is the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Tian is also a student at Tsinghua University. He will start his postgraduate course after the 10th National Games.

The quadrennial National Games, which runs its 10th meeting from October 12 through 24, has been billed as China's mini-Olympics, features all the 28 summer sports as well as some of the winter sports.

All the Chinese gold medalists of last year's Athens Games are expected to compete at the Games.

In a related development, Tian Liang, was ranked 16th at the Forbes magazine's ranking of the Chinese athletes, a recent Beijing Daily Messenger report said.

(China Daily 09/24/2005 page2)

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