Chinese Luo Wei, who started taekwondo training only five years, took the women's 67kg gold medal at the Athens Olympics on Saturday evening.
This was the 29th Olympic gold for China in Athens and the first for the 21-year-old Luo who attended Olympic Games for the first time.
Luo, winner of the 2003 Worlds in Germany, edged Greek Elisavet Mystakidou, the bronze medallist of the 2003 Worlds, 7-6 in the deafening home crowd cheering.
Luo's coach Chen Liren said after the match that "we asked Luo to see the stadium as the Beijing Workers' Stadium, and regard the home crowd's shouting and stamps as cheering for her."
"It was really a tough match but Luo played fairly well," Chen said.
"She is a girl with strong nerve," he added.
Leading 2-1 in the first set, Luo faced an extremely tough battle in the second in which Mystakidou made a brilliant rally with consecutive kicks and led Luo 4-3 in the end.
"My coach ordered me to attack more actively after the second set, just fight like a crazy fighter," Luo, who always has a smile, said after the duel.
Luo, who is taller than the Greek, attacked more actively and accurately in the third set and collected five points. But Luo received two Kyong-gos, namely the deduction of one point.
Mystakidou scored two points in the third set but failed to catch up again.
Luo said "I never met the Greek before. In today's final, she played quite well. Now, we are friends."
"I feel so great. This is my first Olympic gold medal. And other Chinese athletes' triumph in Athens considerably encouraged me to go ahead," she added.
Luo ran round the mat with a Chinese national flag to celebrate her win, politely making bows to the spectators around and shaking hands with some of them.
When the play of the Chinese national anthem ended, all the spectators clapped their hands for Luo and their own medallist Mystakidou.
Mystakidou said that "I trained for taekwondo for 15 years. I am very happy to get an Olympic medal here."
"The game was very tough, and my opponent is also very strong. I must say I have done my best," she added.
South Korean Hwang Kyung Sun, who lost to Luo in the first round but came to the bronze fight through repechage, finished third in the class.
(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2004)