China Sweeps Up Six Golds in Red Flag Day

It was a Red Flag day for China at the Sydney Olympic Games on Friday, with six golds, three silvers and two bronzes in record-breaking performances.

Three more golds are secured on Saturday with Chinese contesting titles in badminton and table tennis, which took China's golden tally to 17.

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 superheavyweight 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 Korea (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 kg.

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 has 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 semifinals, 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 semifinals. Singapore's Jing Jun Hong beat Mihaela Joana Steff of Romania and faces China's Li Ju in one semifinal on Saturday.

The other matchup 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.

World No 7 Ji Xingpeng outpaced Hendrawan of Indonesia, ranking No 2 in the world, to take the men's singles gold.

China put four of five golds of the Olympic badminton events into its bag, as Chinese paddlers won both the men's and women's singles, the women's doubles and the mixed doubles.

(People’s Daily 09/24/2000)

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