Beijing, April 20 (IANS) China will not be able to repeat their Beijing Olympics performance of topping the gold medal tally when they compete at the London Olympic Games, a top sports official has said.
Cai Zhenhua, former table tennis champion and coach and now deputy minister of China's State General Administration of Sports, however, played down the country's medal prospects in London.
"Based on a study about the past five Games, the host country wins record high medals at their home Olympics, but their medals total would drop dramatically at the next edition," Cai told Xinhua.
"We will face strong challenges in London. It won't be an easy job," he said.
China topped the Beijing gold medal tally with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze, compared to second-placed United States' 36 gold, 38 silver and 36 bronze.
Cai said the world sports scenario has changed post-Beijing Olympics.
"The United States has maintained its overall strength and countries like Russia and Britain have increased their inputs in sports, while China is less competitive in some sports," said Cai.
"As a number of Olympic and world champions retired after the Beijing Games, a younger generation would form the bulk of Chinese Olympic contingent. Some of our young athletes lack international exposure and consistency, so we cannot be very optimistic about their performance.
"Furthermore, London is not Beijing, we are no longer competing at home. We have to overcome the time difference, unfamiliar weather as well as logistical inconvenience. So our target for 2012 is just to remain in the lead pack on the gold medal table," he said.
So far, China has secured over 310 Olympic spots in 172 events. And with Olympic qualification competitions still on in triathlon, boxing, wrestling, tennis, Chinese athletes are set to grab more quota places.
"We expect to send a 380-strong squad to London and it will be finalised in early July," said Cai.
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