China’s improbable run to the gold medal match has coach Jenny Lang Ping on the doorstep of volleyball history.
With one more victory, Lang Ping would become the first person ever to win a gold medal as both a player and a coach. (U.S. coach Karch Kiraly was vying for the same bit of history before Serbia knocked the Americans down the bronze medal match.)
Lang Ping won gold with the 1984 Chinese national team at the Los Angeles Olympics.
She then went on to begin her coaching career not long after – taking a job as an assistant at the University of New Mexico in 1987.
Lang Ping also spent time as the coach of the U.S. women from 2004-08 and guided the team to a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. She won a silver medal at the helm of the Chinese national team in 1996, as well.
Lang Ping is in the Volleyball Hall of Fame as a player, but she can certainly make a case for a spot as a coach, too, especially if she picks up more hardware Saturday.
China has taken a roundabout journey to the gold medal game after losing to the Netherlands in the opening match of the preliminary round and sort of backing into the quarterfinals with just a 2-3 record in prelim play.
But the No. 3 team in the world has found its groove since then, upsetting Brazil with a wildly impressive comeback in the quarterfinals and then getting some revenge on the Dutch in the semis.
Serbia, meanwhile, is in its first gold medal match ever and will try to make history in its own right.
No matter what happens Sunday, Serbia will take home the first medal in women’s volleyball in the country’s history.
China and Serbia square off for the gold medal Saturday at 9:15 p.m. ET.