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August 16: 30 gold medals
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China's gold medal hopefuls:

Rowing - women's double scull; badminton -women's singles, men's doubles; shooting - men's 25-meter rapid-fire pistol

Xie Xingfang

Xie Xingfang

August 16 will be a most bustling day with 30 gold medals to be churned out in 10 sports. Women's singles and men's doubles in badminton will be the most coveted events for the Chinese team. Given that China has the three highest-ranked athletes competing for the women's singles title, China has the best odds of winning. Just look at the list of candidates: Zhang Ning, the defending Olympic winner; Xie Xingfang, the world number one and Lu Lan, the powerful contender despite a lack of experience. The trio will definitely form a formidable lineup in a bid for gold. As for men's doubles, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, a talented pair, are expected to pull off a historic breakthrough on the badminton court.

China has yet to win a single gold medal in rowing. Over the last few years, however, the pair made up of Li Qin and Tian Liang has emerged as a new force and has seldom tasted defeat since they won the World Championship in 2007. They stand a good chance of winning a medal but they will encounter a strong opponent in New Zealand twins Georgina and Caroline Swindell, who have had excellent performances over the past decade.

Shooting has been a steady source of gold medals for China in the Games. Zhang Penghui and Liu Zhongsheng, the winner and runner-up of the 2006 World Championships, are eyeing a podium place. China's shooting team is typically strong in pistol with one exception, rapid-fire pistol. Liu Yongqiang finished sixth in the event at the last Olympics, the best performance ever for China's shooting team. It is hoped that Zhang and Liu will produce a pleasant surprise in the Beijing Games and that playing at home next August will prove to be a great opportunity to sharpen their competitive edge. Additionally, Qu Ridong, a 40-year-old veteran, is aching for an Olympic medal.

(China.org.cn July 30, 2008)

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