XVI Women's Softball World Championship

2018-08-02 - 2018-08-12

@wbsc   #WorldSoftball   Chiba, JPN

XVI Women's Softball World Championship - Official Payoff

Li Qi talks about Chinese Olympic dream

2018-08-13

The Chinese National Team has participated in all of the four editions of the Olympics that featured softball on the programme. In 1996 in Atlanta China lost the gold medal game against the hosts USA.
Amongst the spectators of the 2008 softball tournament in Beijing a fifteen year old was getting familiar with international softball.

“I actually went to the ballpark every single day” said Li Qi through an interpreter “It was the first time I had a chance to see the strongest teams play. I was very impressed by Japan and USA.”

Did the Olympics convince you that you wanted to play softball? “Actually, I started playing when I was nine years old.”

Li Qi was by far the best hitter for the China National Team in the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship. Li Qi, who mostly played right fielder, had a stunning .471 on base percentage. This means she reached base safely 47,1 % of the times she came at bat.

LI Qi – exclusive interview

Despite your performances, China finished in tenth place: “I believe we have the ability to perform much better than what you saw in Japan in the last two weeks.”
The pitchers didn’t play up to expectations “Unfortunately, we don’t have a vast group of elite pitchers in China. But out statistics tell you very well that the team was below expectations also at bat.”

Li Qi was an absolute beginner in the Softball World Championship: “As a…Freshman, I had a chance to see in person that there still is quite a big gap between China and the top teams. This makes my determination to improve even stronger.”

The goal for Chinese Softball is to earn a spot in the 2020 Olympics: “We can make it as long as everyone works to follow a common direction. We need to make good use of every game, of every practice from now until the Qualifier.”

She was the best hitter for China in the tournament

In Tokyo softball will try to show the Olympic Family it belongs in the Games: “Softball is a great sport, very entertaining. It requires multiple skills. To play elite softball you need power, flexibility, speed. And you also need mental toughness. Softball players need to be smart.”
Why baseball-softball and not other sports? “Because baseball and softball are more entertaining than most of the sports. We can prove that. In Tokyo we must attract huge crowds. We want to show that baseball and softball belong in the Olympics beyond 2020”
What would you tell a girl to convince her to start playing softball? “It’s the perfect choice for a girl. As I said, to excel in softball you need to have multiple skills.”

It’s common belief that that since softball was out of the Olympics the development of the game slowed down in China: “Being out of the 2012 and 2016 Games for sure influenced the development of the game in my Country. But I feel the chances for softball are back there. We’re starting to involve more people.”
Do you have a Softball League in China? “Not yet. The teams represent the difference Provinces. I play for the Beijing Province. We have two different seasons: one in the first half of the year and one in the second half. We attract good interest. We are not at the level of USA and Japan, but we are growing rapidly. Building a Professional League is in our plans.”

Would it be an advantage to host the qualifying tournament back home in China or you believe it could cause too much pressure on the players? “I believe there will be a lot of advantages, if China hosts the Tokyo 2020 Qualifier. For sure, it will give us a better chance to qualify. But most of all, it will be a great possibility of showing people in China what a wonderful game softball is. We will have a chance to involve more people.”

Which would be the team to beat? “For sure the hardest team to beat will be Australia.”

Investments by big corporations may help: “Actually, Shogun Sports is already investing in softball.”

Which path should China follow to improve: import foreign coaches or concentrate on recruiting? “I think both. We have already started importing coaches, because it is important to learn from the Nations that have success in softball. But I think that getting to involve more young players is really the key. Without that, you cannot really grow.”
Would you go abroad to play and take some knowledge back home? “I play softball to represent China. But if the right opportunity came, I would seize it for sure. It would be great to go back to China and share the knowledge.

What about the language barrier? “The language barrier exists, this is a fact. But I don’t think it is really a factor. Softball people can find common ground. Softball is a universal language.”

Li Qi, born on 25.06.1993

Li Qi 13/31, .429 ave, .471 OBP, .955 OPS

Biagraphy and stats: https://wswc.wbsc.org/player/22729