Beijing: China Posts Greatest Olympic Gold Haul Ever


Beijing, Aug 17: China on Sunday ensured its home Olympics will go down as its greatest ever after its women's table tennis team won the hosts' 33rd gold of the Games to overtake its previous best tally at Athens in 2004.

The powerhouse country has progressively improved its medal standing over the past 20 years and is determined to beat the United States and end the Beijing showpiece as the world's dominant sporting nation.

Publicly, China's leadership have played down the country's sporting ambitions but in reality its athletes have been under extreme pressure to perform well with nationalistic pride at stake.

In the drive to beat the previous mark, they are fielding 639 competitors in Beijing - up from the 407 sent to Greece.

The 33rd medal came when their women paddlers beat Singapore 3-0 in the team final, with Guo Yue and Zhang Yining clinching the decisive doubles rubber 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 in front of President Hu Jintao watching from the stands.

They also have 13 silver and 12 bronze, to the United States' 19 gold, 21 silver and 24 bronze.

Sixteen of their gold have come in judo, shooting, and weightlifting, which has pleased Chinese officials.

"Most of the Chinese competitors fully displayed their abilities to realise the goal of achieving good results on home soil," said Cui Dalin, deputy chef de mission of the Chinese delegation.

"We are especially pleased by our athletes in judo, shooting and weightlifting. But every single medal is meaningful in its own way and won through painstaking efforts by our athletes."

But he cautioned that the goldrush would ease in the final week of the Olympics.

"Generally speaking, Chinese athletes are not strong contenders in many events in the second half of the Games. With events like track and field starting, China's pace in winning gold medals will slow down," said Cui.

Six golds were won by China on Sunday.

Gymnast Xiao Qin equalled the Athens landmark when he won the men's pommel horse competition.

Xiao, the reigning world champion on the apparatus won on 15.875 ahead of Croatian Filip Ude on 15.725 and Britain's Louis Smith who also scored 15.725 but was relegated to bronze due to Ude's superior execution.

It maintained the Chinese men's team's 100 percent record at the Beijing Games, with four gold out of four gymastics events so far contested.

Fellow gymnast Zou Kai earlier won the men's floor exercise while world junior champion Wang Jiao took gold by beating two-time world senior champion Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria to win the women's freestyle wrestling 72kg event.

For the first time, the world's most populous nation won a rowing title when the quartet of Tang Bin, Jin Ziwei, Xi Aihua and Zhang Yangyang upset world champions Britain in the women's quadruple sculls.

Qiu Jian, meanwhile, was gifted the men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions when American Matthew Emmons cracked under pressure.

Emmons, who enjoyed a comfortable lead going into his last shot, managed only a miserable 4.4 to drop to fourth place to hand Qiu an unexpected triumph.

Zhou Chunxiu excelled when she came a credible third behind Romania's Constantina Tomescu in the women's marathon.

And China's women - Zhou Jing, Sun Ye, Zhou Yafei, Pang Jiayin - had a storming swim in the women's 4x100metres medley relay, taking bronze behind Australia and the United States in a race where the world record was shattered.


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Title: Beijing: China Posts Greatest Olympic Gold Haul Ever

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