Table tennis: Liu Guoliang to step down as Chinese national team's head coach

Chinese coach Liu Guoliang celebrating with (from left) Zhang Jike, Wang Hao and Ma Long their gold at the medal ceremony of the men's team event in the 2012 Olympics. He is set to be the vice-chairman of the China Table Tennis Association.
Chinese coach Liu Guoliang celebrating with (from left) Zhang Jike, Wang Hao and Ma Long their gold at the medal ceremony of the men's team event in the 2012 Olympics. He is set to be the vice-chairman of the China Table Tennis Association.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's Liu Guoliang will step down after four years as head coach of the country's table tennis team as part of a management restructuring, the state media reported on Tuesday.

The 41-year-old, who won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is taking a job as vice-chairman of the China Table Tennis Association, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the association.

He was appointed to coach the national men's team at the age of 27 in 2003 and handed over to Qin Zhijian in April.

China dominates the world in table tennis, winning 28 out of 32 gold medals awarded since table tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988.

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Xinhua said the restructuring was to improve training and efficiency in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The men's and women's national teams would be managed separately in future, it said.

Liu's former table tennis partner Kong Linghui, was suspended in May as the national women's team coach after a Singaporean hotel sued him over a gambling debt. A friend was later reported to have settled the debt.