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Figure-Skating: Perfect Farewell for Chinese Legends
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China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo ended their career in rapturous style yesterday by capturing their third pairs gold medals in six years at the World Figure Skating Championship in Tokyo.

Shen and Zhao, who famously stormed back from a fall to win the bronze medal at the Turin Olympics last year, received a standing ovation from a crowd, overwrought with emotion, after completing their bewitching routine set to Jules Massenet's "Meditation from Thais."

The Chinese pair, who have announced their retirement but are leaving the door open for a return at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, took top spot in the short program on Tuesday and scored the best score of 132.63 points in the free skating for a total of 203.50.

It was the third world title for Shen and Zhao, after their wins in 2002 and 2003 and their silver at the 2004 championships.

"I think it is a perfect result for us, and I feel very relaxed after winning the title," said Zhao. "We will leave the national team for some time. We've been on the international stage for quite a long time."

Compatriots and defending champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian finished second with a total of 188.46 points, closely tailed by Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany who were just pushed into third with 187.39 points.

China failed to make it a clean sweep of medals as last year's silver medalists, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, finished a disappointing fifth with 173.39 points.

(China Daily via AFP March 22, 2007)

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