Zhu Ting during her last match with China at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Zhu Ting is back! The 29-year-old super star will play for China again. Zhu made the announcement on social media herself.

“Today, April 8, 2024, I officially confirmed with the Chinese Volleyball Association that I will return to the national team during the FIVB Volleyball Nations League,” she stated at the beginning of her post.

Zhu will devote herself to helping China secure a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the team’s results in the Preliminary Phase of the VNL will be crucial in achieving that goal.

The Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist and MVP last played for China at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, after which she took time off for wrist surgery. After her recovery, Zhu returned to the courts in 2022 and has been playing top-level club volleyball for Italy’s Savino Del Bene Scandicci, but she never rejoined the national team until now.

Without their star outside hitter, China failed to take advantage of hosting one of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers in Ningbo last September and finished third in their pool, just below the cut-off for the Olympics. Currently, the team is ranked sixth in the world and is the highest ranked Asian team in the women’s FIVB World Ranking, hence in the best position to snatch the continental ticket to Paris, but will have to fight during the VNL Preliminary Phase to remain in a qualifying position.

China will start their VNL 2024 campaign on May 14 with an all-Asian clash against Korea in Rio de Janeiro and will also play against reigning Olympic champions United States, Canada and reigning world champions Serbia during the first competition week. In week two, Zhu and her teammates will host one of the VNL pools in Macao, facing the Netherlands, Japan, Thailand and Italy. The team’s last four games before the Olympic qualification process is completed will also be played in front of a home crowd, in Hong Kong, where China will meet Bulgaria, Germany, Türkiye and Poland.

Here is Zhu Ting’s full statement:

“Today, April 8, 2024, I officially confirmed with the Chinese Volleyball Association that I will return to the national team during the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

“The sole purpose of my return is to contribute to securing a spot for the Chinese women's volleyball team at the Paris Olympics. I will devote myself fully to training and competition, refraining from any commercial activities or endorsements during my time with the national team to avoid distractions and misunderstandings.

“From the end of last year until the Chinese New Year, I experienced fatigue and a significant decline in athletic performance, to the point where I struggled to cope with daily matches. Moreover, relentless rumours and attacks on social media since the Tokyo Olympics have not only affected me, but also my family. At one point, I even lost interest in volleyball and sought to distance myself from controversies, leading me to submit a retirement application to the Henan Sports Bureau.

“Upon learning of my intention to retire, officials from the Henan Sports Bureau, the General Administration of Sports in China, and the national team showed great concern. They communicated with me multiple times, offering encouragement and support. Over the past two years, my mentor, Lang Ping, encouraged me numerous times to return to the national team and continue representing my country. During my lowest moments, she helped analyze my physical and technical issues and urged me to improve my fitness.

“With the support of various parties, I dispelled thoughts of retirement, intensified my physical training, and improved my athletic performance. The boost in my confidence from this improvement has helped me emerge from my slump. Now, I feel physically and mentally prepared, which is why I officially confirmed my return to the national team today, ready to represent my country once again. I express my gratitude to everyone who has supported and encouraged me during this time.

“Next, I will strive to perform well in the remaining matches of the Italian Serie A league this season. Subsequently, I will focus on recovering my fitness, catching up with the national team's pace, and wholeheartedly engaging in training and competition. Together with the team, I will exert all efforts to secure a spot for the Chinese women's volleyball team at the Paris Olympics.”

Zhu Ting's post
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