China denies Michael Johnson will coach PRC

BEIJING, April 22 (AFP) - Chinese sports officials saythere is little chance American track legend MichaelJohnson will help coach the country’s Olympic athletes,after local reports said he will start work here inJune.
Feng Shuyong, deputy director of the Chinese AthleticsManagement Center which governs the country’s track andfield, said China will not be hiring a foreign coach inthe near future.
He was responding to reports in local newspapers thatthe five-time Olympic gold medal winner, who quitcompetition in 2001, would help China’s national teamprepare for the Athens Games.
I don't know where these kinds of reports camefrom,'' Feng was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.I never said we would have a foreign coach.’’
But another CAMC official, speaking on condition ofanonymity, admitted that Johnson, who holds worldrecords in 200m and 400m, would conduct two clinics forChinese athletes under a program sponsored by Nike.
``He is more likely to conduct a few clinics for usinstead of taking a coaching role,’’ the official said.
Foreign coaches are showing increasing interest inChina’s sports prospects with its national football andbasketball teams coached by Dutchman Arie Haan andAmerican Del Harris, respectively.
China acknowledges there is a huge gap between thecountry’s top level athletes and the world’s best, butwith the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 it wants to atleast to be on a more competitive footing.
China won one gold in track and field at the 200oOlympics in Sydney, in the women’s 20km walk.
Their medal hopefuls in Athens include men’s 110mhurdler Liu Xiang, bronze medallist at last year’s worldchampionships, and women’s long distance runner SunYingjie, who also won world championship bronze, in the5,000m.