Nothing but an Olympic gold medal was the only ambition for Chinese Wang Haibin during the past four years, but his return to the piste ended with another silver medal in Athens.
Wang and the Chinese team won Saturday the runners-up of the men's team foil competition with a 45-42 loss to Italy.
"I'm not sorry for what we did in the finals. We played a good game but the results didn't come," said the 31-year-old Wang.
His eyes betrayed him when he said he did not regret as he tried hard to hold tears before dozens of journalists.
Four years ago in the Sydney Olympics, Wang was one step to the final glory of his career when he was leading 44-43 over Jean-Noel Ferrari of France in the finals.
Ferrari tied it 44-44 before he usurped the title from the Chinese as the referee pointed to the Frenchman on a simultanee.
Wang quit his career after Sydney Olympics and went to France to learn French.
He didn't want to leave the Games with the biggest regret of his life, teaming up with Dong Zhaozhi and Ye Chong for his last run for the gold.
Tagged as "the Three Musketeers", all the fencers came out of retirements to join the training camps in 2003 to fulfill a dream of career.
Wang, who finished at the ninth place on his first Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, set low tone of his return.
"To win a gold medal in the Olympics is my ambition of years, but I'm not an ambitious person," Wang said. "When I started learning fencing, I wanted to play out the best of the sword. And now the sword itself is my most achievement."
Cai Jiadong, director of China's Cycling and Fencing Administration Center, said "the Three Musketeers" are real champions in his mind.
"I feel sorry that their ambition fell short again in Athens. But I'm proud with them because they played more like champions inthe finals than their opponents," Cai said.
Wang said he is not thinking about retiring again after the loss.
"I don't know whether I can play again in 2008 (Beijing Olympics). I'll decide my future after I go back to Beijing," Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2004)