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September 23, 2000
China joins the party
It was a Red Flag day for China at the Sydney Olympics on Friday, with six golds, three silvers and two bronzes in record-breaking performances.
Two more gold are assured on Saturday with Chinese contesting titles in badminton and table tennis, which would take China's golden tally to 16. Only the United States has more medals.
Two of Friday's golds came in weightlifting, with Ding Meiyuan setting three world records to take the super heavyweight division and unofficial title of the world's strongest woman.
The other golds were in shooting, badminton, judo and table tennis.
China's performance overshadowed another brilliant effort by South Korea's archers, who won their third gold at the Games when their men took the team title by beating Italy 255-247. South Korea won three of the four archery golds, their women having earlier take the individual and team titles.
Ding set a snatch record of 135.0 kg and a clean and jerk mark of 165.0 kg to take the superheavy weightlifting title with an overall world record of 300.0.
Her win completed a women's weightlifting sweep by China. Countries were allowed to enter only four of the seven women's divisions, and China took all four golds.
"I feel very fortunate in being one of the four gold medallists for China. I didn't come here to break world records but to be a champion," Ding said.
Ding's gold was followed shortly after by another from Zhan Xugang in the men's 77 kg division.
China's shooting medals came from Yang Ling's victory in the men's 10-metre running, where team mate Niu Zhiyuan took the bronze, and Tao Luna, who had a silver in the 25-metre air pistol to go along with the gold she won in the 10-metre pistol.
China now have eight shooting medals at the Sydney Games.
"This a historical breakthrough for China. We have never won so many medals in the Olympics," shooting team manager Feng Jianzhong told Reuters.
The first table tennis final gave China their first gold and silver in the sport at Sydney, with Li Ju and Wang Nan beating Sun Jin and Yang Ying 21-18 21-11 21-11 in women's doubles.
The one-two finish will be repeated in the men's doubles. In Friday's semi-finals, Wang Liqin and Yan Sen beat Lee Chul-Seung and Yoo Seung-Min of South Korea, and Kong Linghui and Liu Guoliang beat France's Patrick Chila and Jean-Philippe Gatien.
Singapore and Taiwan crashed the Chinese party in the women's table tennis semi-finals. Singapore's Jing Jun Hong beat Mihaela Joana Steff of Romania and faces China's Li Ju in one semi-final on Saturday.
The other match-up will be between Taiwan's Jing Chen, a winner over Germany's Qianhong Gotsch, and China's Wang Nan, who downed Chire Koyama of Japan in the last quarterfinal.
In badminton, top-seeded Gong Zhichao added another Chinese gold by easily beating Denmark's Camilla Martin 13-10 11-3 in women's singles.
Indonesia's Hendrawan, the number two seed in men's singles, partially stemmed the Chinese onslaught by beating Xia Xuanze in their semi-final. He faces another Chinese, Ji Xinpeng, who ousted Peter Gade of Denmark, in Saturday's final.
The women's doubles gold will go to a Chinese pair on Saturday, either defending champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun or Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei, who won their semi-finals on Friday.
China picked up its judo gold from Yuan Hua in the women's heavyweight division.
India's powerful tennis doubles champions Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi went down to Australia's top-ranked pair Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in men's doubles 6-3 7-6 (7-1).
The Indians, winners of two Grand Slam titles in 1999, had been a medal hope.
While things went China's way, Japan had a tough time, with heavily favoured double world champion Shinichi Shinohara losing to David Douillet of France in the men's heavyweight judo final.
Miki Nakao got a bronze in the women's 200 backstroke behind Romanian Diana Mocanu, 16, and France's Roxana Maracineanu.
"I thought if I did my best time I would be able to get a gold, but now I have the bronze, which is the wrong colour but I am very happy," Nakao said.
Asia's sprinters started well on the track with Koji Ito, known as Asia's fastest man, qualifying for Saturday's semifinals, as did Sri Lanka's Susanthika Jayasinghe.
India's K M Beena Mol qualified first in the women's 400 metres heats on Friday, ahead of Olympic gold medal favourite Cathy Freeman of Australia.
The 25-year-old finished in 51.51 seconds to move into the second round on Saturday. Jitka Burianova of Czech Republic was second in 51.59, just ahead of Katharine Merry of Britain in 51.61. Freeman won her heat in 51.63 after easing up at the end.
Before the day began, Indonesia picked up a weightlifting medal when Bulgarian weightlifter Izabela Dragneva was disqualified for drugs.
That moved American Tara Nott up to the gold, Indonesia's Raema Lisa Rumbewas to silver and another Indonesian, Sri Indriyani, to bronze.
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