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China's twice defending champion Chen empty-handed at home
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Two-time Olympic champion Chen Zhong of China was left with no chance of obtain taekwondo medals at the Beijing Olympics, after British athlete Sarah Stevenson lost in the semifinal of the women's +67kg category on Saturday.

Chen, who was originally ruled as winner in the quarterfinal against Stevenson, had her victory overruled as the British team appealed against the judgement.

It's the first time in the Olympic taekwondo history that a result was reversed since the South Korea-born martial art was included in the Olympic programs at Sydney Games.

Chen took the lead in the second round with one point, however, Stevenson, Chen's long-time rival, successfully nailed a headshot just one second to go in the third round. The kick wasn't scored after the judge and four corner referees' discussion and they decided Chen as the winner.

However, at around 17:15 Friday, it was announced through the loudspeaker that the result was reversed.

"After reviewing the match footage, the Competition Supervisory Board decided to reverse the match result due to an error in judgement. GRB (Great Britain) advances to the semifinal," read the official communication issued by the technical delegation at 17:40. It didn't reveal any details about how and why the original results have been changed.

Yang Jin-suk, secretary-general of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), didn't explain it at a hastily arranged press conference.

"Initially the referees and judges decided the Chinese player as the winner. After a review of the protest application, as well as the video, it was very clear that the British player was the winner," Yang said.

He said China didn't file a reprotest although it has the right to.

"They were so graceful and as host country, with their sportsmanship, they accepted the decision," he said.

Zhao Lei, vice president of the Chinese Taekwondo Association, confirmed that China accepted the decision and he admitted that Chen was headkicked by her opponent.

"As it (the initial decision) is an obvious mistake and we are the host country, we wanted to show sporting spirit and we agreed to change the result," Zhao said.

"She (Chen Zhong) was not in a good form," he said.

However, Chen denied she was under great pressure in a phone interview with Xinhua.

"I've tried my best," she said.

Chen said she didn't know whether the kick was before or after the match ended and just accepted the outcome.

"And when I knew it was reversed, I also accepted it," said the 25-year-old, adding that the rise and fall she came across today wasn't a big deal if compared with the difficulties she had gone through during the preparation for the Games.

"I just feel sorry to those who have helped me a lot in the past four year for letting them down," she said.

After a lot of fuss from spectators, Stevenson lost to Maria del Rosario Espinoza from Mexico later 4-1 in the semifinal, eliminating Chen's chance to become a lucky loser.

According to regulations, athletes who lost to finalists could become lucky losers and vie for two Olympic bronze medals.

Stevenson finally settled for one of the bronze medals after repechage matches.

Espinoza claimed the title, beating Nina Solheim of Norway 3-1. Another bronze went to Natalia Falavigna of Brazil.

(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2008)

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