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China's judo medalist Xian is 'mother' of all champions
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The old injuries were still troubling her, but Xian finally decided to have another try.

"I wanted to find out whether I still have the ability to compete," she thought. She said she knew her strengths and believed she was mentally ready.

In the first two years of her professional sports training from the age of 13, Xian practiced Chinese wrestling, which she said "provided some advantages" by using one of its techniques in the competition.

"One of the reasons for my return is that the Olympic Games would be held in my own country for the first time. That really motivated me."

She said she never expected to achieve so much this time, but had tried very hard to win the medal.

"I must overcome every difficulty, after I made up my mind to compete in the Beijing Games.

"The competition was fierce, but the more difficult part was the period of my recovery after the comeback," she said.

She weighed 63 kilograms then, after 14 months of no professional training, and the only way to lose weight was hard training.

Her training was 10 times that of other athletes, most more than 10 years younger. Xian lost 11 kg in three months and won a championship in a national tournament.

In the finals on Sunday evening, she still had two steel pins in her injured knees.

Her little daughter has been a great relief to her these days.

When she came to Beijing for training, her daughter turned into a frequent flyer at such an early age. Her husband took the baby to the capital to stay for two or three days every month, so that his wife would not miss her child too much.

Xian also chatted with her daughter by computer two or three times a week. "She was very naughty and kept babbling at me. She is my biggest support in all hardships."

"You are a great mother, but a greater athlete," an anonymous Chinese netizen wrote on the portal Baidu.com on Sunday, while many others hailed her as a national treasure.

(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)

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