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China frets over first gold medal
August 07, 2008 10:38 IST
Shooters afraid of going "psycho" with the pressure, commentaries in the People's Daily and reports of secret contingency plans -- China has got itself all in a lather about the first gold medal of the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images].
The hosts are almost certain of claiming the first title of the Games through Du Li in the 10 metre air rifle shooting at around 1050 local time (0250 GMT) on Saturday, while the experienced Zhao Yinghui looms as a strong contender should she fail.
Du won the first gold at the Athens Olympics, but coaches and team officials are playing down expectations, saying the pressure might affect the shooters' performances.
"Never talk about the first gold," deputy sports minister Cui Dalin warned in the state newspaper People's Daily on Tuesday, while a commentary added: "The closer the competition is getting, the cooler the shooters and coaches should be towards the gold medal. They must keep a clear mind, be calm, calm, calm."
Du, who has been shooting competitively since the age 12, said she is enjoying the pressure and looking forward to retaining the title at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.
"It is true that in 2008, our athletes are under heavy pressure, but realistically it might be the only chance in our lifetime," the 26-year-old said after a test event in April.
"Once 2008 is gone, even when you want to enjoy this kind of pressure there will be no chance."
The Shandong-born shooter has not always been immune to the pressure.
"Sometimes I ask why I don't give up ... My brain is straining too much and I'm on the verge of collapse," she wrote on her blog last year.
"I am thinking if this lasts too long, will I go psycho? I don't know how long I can go on training under such high pressure every day! I am so tired!!"
If the shooters fail to win gold, local media reports have suggested a delay could be manufactured to allow the women's 48kg weightlifting, where Chen Xiexia is favourite for gold, to finish first, though the International Olympic Committee are likely to resist such manoeuvring.
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