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|August 24, 2000||
Taiwan seeks first goldAlice Hung in Taipei
Taiwan see the Sydney Olympics as their best chance yet for a first gold medal, thanks to debut sports taekwondo and women's weightlifting.
"It is generally believed we are strong in weightlifting and taekwondo. Prospects are quite good," Huang Ta-chou, president of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, told Reuters.
"But it's still too early to say how many medals we can win as the final outcome hinges on many factors."
Since first competing in the Summer Games in Los Angeles in 1932, Taiwan have collected three silver and two bronze medals.
Generous financial rewards will accompany any Sydney medals.
Taiwan offer athletes and coaches a reward of T$10 million (US$333,000) each for an Olympic gold, T$6 million for a silver, T$4 million for a bronze, and lesser prizes right down to a 10th placing.
Medal hopefuls include Li Feng-ying and Chen Jui-lien in the inaugural women's weightlifting event.
Taekwondo is the Korean martial art, but Taiwan are strong in the sport because of Huang Chih-hsiung, Chi Shu-ju and Hsu Chih-ling.
Taiwan are always also competitive in table tennis, and their challenge in Sydney will be spearheaded by women entrants Chen Jing and Xu Jing.
Further lifting medal hopes, Taiwan's weightlifting association quashed a two-year ban on two women who tested positive for drugs. That cleared the way for Chen Jui-lien and Wu Mei-yi to compete in Sydney after months of controversy.
Chen, who won gold in the women's 63 kg division at the 1999 World Championships in Athens, had been tipped to bring home Taiwan's first Olympic gold medal.
But Taiwan's weightlifting association, responsible for nominating athletes for the Olympics, suspended Chen from competition for three years after she tested positive for steroids in March.
The suspension included a two-year ban for using illegal drugs and another one-year ban for disobeying coaches.
Then, Wu was suspended for testing positive for using the same kinds of drugs in July.
Doubt was cast on Chen's ban when a special task force led by the cabinet's National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports ruled that the doping test was not conducted according to international standards.
The association reversed its decisions on August 18 -- days before the deadline for the local Olympic committee to finalise the Olympic team -- after Wu's coach made an appeal on the ground that the tests contained "many, many procedural errors".
"We feel it necessary to correct the mistakes," association spokesman Chiu Shui-wen said.
Mail Sports Editor
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