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Beijing gold haul difficult in London: Chinese official

China will not be able to repeat the glory of winning the most gold medals when they compete at the London Olympic Games this summer, a top sports official has said.

As the London Olympics marked the 100-day countdown Wednesday, Cai Zhenhua, deputy minister of China's State General Administration of Sports, played down the country's medal prospects this time around, reports Xinhua.

'Based on a study of the past five Games, the host country will have a record medal tally at their home Olympics, but the total would drop dramatically at the next edition,' Cai said.

'We will face strong challenge in London, it won't be an easy job,' he added.

China topped the Beijing Olympics gold medal tally with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze, compared to the United States' 36 gold, 38 silver and 36 bronze.

Cai, who was formerly a table tennis player and coach, noted that the scenario of world sports has changed after the 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 squad. 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 logistics inconvenience. So our target for 2012 is just to remain in the lead pack on the gold medal table,' he added.

So far, China has secured over 310 Olympic spots in 172 events. And with Olympic qualification competitions still in on for triathlon, boxing, wrestling, tennis, Chinese athletes are set to grab more quota places.

'We expect to send a squad of 380-strong athletes to London and the delegation will be finalised early July,' said Cai.
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