BEIJING - Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets' 30-year-old All-star center, has all but ruled himself out of the 2012 London Games due to his lingering foot injury.
"The chance (to play in London) is very little. The foot injury will not allow me to play so many games anymore," said Yao during his foundations Charity Tour game in Beijing. "Like I said before, I will quit the national team and the sport one day. It's what happens to every athlete."
Yao, who sat out the past NBA season and is still recovering from the foot injury, led China to an eighth-place finish at 2008 Beijing Games, but is now playing down his pivotal role on the national team, saying the younger generation of players should not rely on him anymore.
"I'm 30. As an athlete, I am not the future of China basketball anymore," Yao said. "We have young players from a new generation in the national team. They have creativity and a fresh understanding of the sport."
However, without the 2.26m giant, China was humiliated by Iran in last year's Asian Championship final and not much is expected of the team at next month's World Championship in Turkey.
Surprisingly, Yao criticized the team's preparation for the 2008 Beijing Games and said China was now suffering because of its lack of quality reserves and league development.
"We are paying for what we didn't do leading up to 2008. We skipped the development of a reserve team and the CBA league and focused only on the national team and the Olympics. It's like you are killing the goose that lays the golden egg."
Personally for Yao, the most important thing is to return to the court as soon as possible.
He has already stated he will not opt out of the final year of his contract with Rockets and will return to the team for the 2010-11 season.
He also said his recovery was going very well and he "will be back in October" for the NBA's preseason.
To give Yao more time to rest, the Rockets signed 7-foot veteran center Brad Miller.
"I think we have a very good lineup for new season. Now we have the strength to make it to the second round of the playoffs. But I hope it's not the end and we can still move forward."
Asked about his future, Yao said any decision would depend on his injured foot.
"If the foot injury does not heal next season, I might choose to call it quits."
However, Yao ruled out the possibility of becoming a coach in retirement.
"I have no interests in coaching. I don't think I have the talent for a coaching job."