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China's judo medalist Xian is 'mother' of all champions
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Xian Dongmei [Xinhua]

 Xian Dongmei [Xinhua]

Xian Dongmei, 33 and mother of an 18-month-old girl, held her arms high in joy after winning her second gold medal in the women's light-weight judo competition at the Olympics.

She became a Chinese legend on Sunday: the first judoka who defended the championship, not to mention the first mother gold medalist.

Xian, from an ordinary farming family in south China's Guangdong Province, smiled in her usual modest way after the match. But her tears swelled when standing on the podium to receive the medal -- tears of joy and pride.

"What I want most right now is to have a good rest and stay with my little daughter," the tough judoka said softly, talking about her plans with her family four days ago.

"I want very much to make it up to my daughter."

Her simple words moved many who were watching. Every mother understood the pain of leaving a little baby behind.

Xian burst into tears almost every time her daughter was mentioned -- tears of deep sorrow.

She claimed her first title in the 2004 Athens Games and made a comeback to don her judogi once again in May 2007 when summoned by the national team. Her baby was only four months old then.

"I have tried my very best today, and I think I defeated not just my opponent, but myself," she said as she won.

Before she started training for the Beijing Games more than a year ago, Xian was having a long-anticipated regular family life in Guangdong, coaching the provincial judo team.

She had just delivered a lovely baby girl in January, after having postponed her wedding four years earlier due to her part in the 2004 Games.

She said she hesitated before making the decision whether to return. Her husband, actually her former practice partner, helped to list the difficulties ahead, including her physical condition.

The veteran judoka was told by a doctor in 1996 that she could not continue her career due to a left knee injury, but she ignored that advice and kept on going.

She was hit by a sudden bone dislocation in her right knee during the finals at a national competition in 2001. To everybody's surprise, she pushed the bone back into place herself and fought on to claim the top medal.

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