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China shutters Olympians from public view

BEIJING, China (AP) — China will field about 800 athletes for the upcoming Olympics, and right now they are hard to find.

Trying to keep distractions to a minimum — and fearful that opponents might be spying — China is shuttering away its top medal contenders.

It seems inevitable that I will see you guys less and less in the coming months, 110-meter hurdler Liu Xiang, the world record holder and Olympic and world champion, told reporters at his training camp a few weeks ago. Liu, who has sponsorships with Nike and Visa, rivals NBA star Yao Ming as the country’s most visible athlete.

Expected to challenge the United States for the most medals and most golds, China is taking no chances and is hoping to keep pressure off key athletes in sports such as badminton, table tennis, weightlifting, volleyball, track and field, and swimming.

Deng Yaping, who won four gold medals in pingpong, said the pressure could be both a plus and a minus.

Our advantage is playing in our home country and having a great level of support, which is a good thing, said Deng, who was voted the top Chinese female athlete of the 20th century. The disadvantage is the great pressure from the fans.

In the next few months, many of China’s top athletes will move to the heavily guarded, Beijing-based National Sports Training Center. The compound has a 24-hour guard composed of paramilitary police and Beijing municipal police.

We are now entering a period of silence, said Li Yongbo, coach of the national badminton team. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

China shutters Olympians from public view – found here.

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January 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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