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China announces biggest-ever Olympic team of 639 athletes

BEIJING, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Beijing Games host China will send their biggest-ever Olympic team of 639 athletes to compete on home soil next month.

The 1099-strong delegation also include 460 officials for the Games to be opened on Aug. 8, according to deputy chef de Mission Duan Shijie here on Friday.

Men's 110 meters hurdling Olympic champion Liu Xiang, NBA star Yao Ming and diving queen Guo Jingjing will spearhead the biggest squad in Beijing to compete in all 28 sports.

Shooter Tan Zongliang, 37, is one of the three athletets making their fourth Olympic trip. The other two are basketballer Li Nan and Guo, two time Olympic champion on women's springboard.

Thirty-seven athletes of the team will enjoy their third Games while 165 have been to Athens.

"I'm getting better with good training and no injury. All I have to do in the Olympic track is to beat myself," said Liu, who became the national hero by winning Chinese men's first-ever athletics Olympic gold medal in 2004.

In a ceremony held at the announcement of the delegation, all the present members pledged, facing the Chinese national flag, that they will complete clean and fair, respecting opponents, judges and spectators.

The Chinese delegation also include 42 minority athletes, participating in 18 sports, and 38 foreign coaches including men's basketball manager Jonas Kazlauskas of Lithuania.

The full list will be revealed later at the Beijing Olympic Games official website.

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