Lang Ping is receiving a lot of criticism from Chinese netizens after the USA women’s volleyball team she coached defeated the Chinese team. There are people calling her a traitor, or accusing her of breaking Chinese people’s hearts.
I really don’t see that any anger is necessary. Lang Ping has done her part to lead the Chinese women’s volleyball team to win a world championship and later help to coach a new Chinese team. Her contribution and achievement as a member of China’s national team is impeccable.
Living and working in the U.S. was her personal choice, to which she is totally entitled. As an athlete not born and raised in America, she managed to continue to shine with her talent and became the head coach of the national team of the U.S. It’s not hard to imagine that she had to overcome a lot of challenges, including language, culture and pressure from her home country. And yet, again, she made prominent achievements.
Coaching a national team to compete on the international stage isn’t easy at all. It is even harder when leading a team not from her home country and competing with many top coaches from around the world, most of whom, as it turns out, happen to be male. Still, Lang Ping is doing a great job, leading her team to advance to the semi-final at the Beijing Olympics.
Winning is not just about getting the points. Watching the American women’s volleyball players playing with such upbeat attitude and excitement, I can tell that Lang Ping taught them not just skills, but also passion for the game. And I believe it was passion for volleyball that sustained Lang Ping to overcome all the difficulties to succeed in her career, gave her the courage to lead the US team to compete in China, and perhaps the heart to tolerate so many harsh words throwing at her from her fellow Chinese.
I admire her capability to excel, her courage to choose her own life, and her professionalism as well as passion to pursue the career she loves. She is successful, graceful, and professional, and we should be proud of her.
Very likely the women’s volleyball final will be between China and U.S. As a Chinese, I certainly hope that the Chinese team, which is also a incredible team with a terrific coach, Chen Zhonghe, will win. But I will be happy, too, if Lang Ping’s team gets the gold. Because, after all, she is a world champion from China, and a remarkable individual as well.
(By Josie Liu. This is cross-posted on the China in Transition blog.)