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China makes feat, traditional powers wane in Olympic stage
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The Olympic boxing tournament witnessed the waning of traditional boxing powers such as Cuba and Russia, while many new faces came to the stage, including China and Mongolia, splitting the 11 golds on offer.

The Chinese boxing team has made an epoch, winning its first-ever boxing gold, and even two, together with one silver and one bronze, beating Russia to top the medal table.

China's initial goal was to obtain one gold, led by ace boxer light flyweight (48kg) Zou Shiming. Yet, during the tournament, Zou won his five matches pretty easily except for one 1/8 final, crushing all five opponents to snatch the gold.

It's the first-ever Olympic boxing gold for China, also its 50th and second to last gold at this Olympics.

If Zou's winning is not much of a surprise, then dark horse light heavyweight (81kg) boxer Zhang Xiaoping from China's Inner Mongolia certainly has brought to the audience much pleasant surprises.

Ranked 9th at last year's world championships, Zhang crushed world silver medalist Russian Artur Beterbiev with an amazing 8-2 at the 1/8 final, and defeated world bronze medalist Kazakh Yerkebulan Shynaliyev at the semifinal, making people looking at him with new eyes.

After conquering many strong-hands, it's not that big a surprise to see him washing out his Irish rival Kenny Egan 11-7 at the final. But his consecutive victories certainly lighted up people's eyes and made him the biggest dark horse of the tournament.

China's super heavyweight (+91kg) boxer Zhang Zhilei couldn't beat his powerful "enemy", world champion Italian Roberto Cammarelle in the final.

Being knocked down by Cammarelle in the last round, Zhang had to face his failure. Yet earning an Olympic silver medal is already a breakthrough for him.

Another Chinese boxer Hanati Silamu was defeated by Cuban Carlos Banteaux Suarez in the semifinal for a bronze medal.

With two golds, one silver and one bronze in hand, the Chinese team suddenly becomes the biggest winner, exceeding Russia's two golds and one bronze.

As a traditional power, Cuba suffered major blows, especially with eight of their boxers joining the last four but only bringing home four silvers and four bronzes, in no comparison with their five-gold feat at the Athens Olympic Games.

Cuba sent a young team to this Olympics since five of their world champions had turned professional. The young Cubans have excellent physical conditions and neat tactical skills, what they lack are pure experience in the international arena.

Russia, another boxing power, only managed to have a narrow lead with two golds and one bronze. Yet it wasn't be able to maintain their obvious advantage over other teams as before, with quite a few of their world medalists being kicked out even from the preliminaries. Russia grabbed three gold and three bronze boxing medals at the Athens Olympic Games.

The world of boxing sees a scatter of power and medals to different countries during this Olympics. Besides China and Russia, Italy, Mongolia, Thailand, Britain, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Dominica all harvested gold.

(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2008)

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