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Xian Wins 5th Gold for China
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Women's judoka Xian Dongmei won China the fifth Olympic gold medal of the Athens Olympic Games with an overwhelming victory over Japanese Yuki Yokosawa in the women's under 52-kilo category in Ano Liossia Olympic Hall on Sunday.

It was one of the most one-sided victory in the Olympic finals as Xian spent only one minute and seven seconds to seal the victory over the 22-year-old Japanese who won a bronze medal at the 2003 World Judo Championships.

Xian became the first judoka to beat a Japanese at the Athens Olympics.

Xian took on an attacking approach, grabbing the Japanese before she could contain the rival down to the mat for ippon.

Xian thanked her husband, also a former judoka, after the victory.

"He is a great man standing behind me," she said.

"But I really do not know how I will celebrate when I return home.

"Judo is the only thing I know," she joked.

The final was the second encounter between the two. Xian managed an easy win over the Japanese in March in the first meet.

"I was relaxed before the match because we have met before.

"So when I knew it was her who went into the final, I just felt confident that I could win the gold medal," said the 29-year-old veteran from Guangdong Province.

Xian said her acknowledgement about her rival because of a joint training session before attributed to her victory.

"I knew what is her advantage, but I do not think she was using it," said the bashful jukoda.

Xian displayed a dominant power en route to the gold. She used less than two minutes to defeat her rivals including the Frenchwoman Annabelle Euranie, silver medallist of 2003 World Championships by ippon in the semi-finals.

The only tough time she faced was in the opening match when she defeated Slovenia's Petra Nareks in overtime.

"The opening match is always difficult but I have no doubt on my ability."

But it is hard to believe it was the first Olympic Games for the 29-year-old veteran who has an impressive season this year by winning the French Super A and German World Cup tournaments.

Yesterday's victory of the two-time national champion Xian, without any world championships experience, was seen by many as a surprise.

But it wasn't for Xian.

"I was aiming for the gold and I did not consider myself as a darkhorse."

Her much-famous rival had to settle for the silver.

"I wanted the gold but I did not do enough to win it," Yokosawa said.

Xian almost missed the Athens Games for a retirement plan after winning a title at the 2001 National Games.

"I have so many injuries so I almost quit," Xian said. "However, there are lots of people who have trust on me and I just kept things going."

Her gold is the second medal for China's judokas in Athens as Gao Feng already won a bronze in the women's under 48-kilo category on Saturday.

Chinese judo team is aiming for one gold but now has the potential to win three.

(China Daily August 16, 2004)

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