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Song Chaoqing gifts China first biathlon gold at Winter Universiade
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Chinese Song Chaoqing stunned the Russian favorites with a thrilling victory in the women's mass start here on Saturday, gifting China the first biathlon gold at the Winter Universiade.

The 18-year-old Song missed five of all 20 targets in the four shooting rounds and sprinted to victory in the tough 12.5km race in 39 minutes 13.4 seconds.

Russian's Anna Sorokina and Nadezhda Chastina finished second and third respectively with 6.5 and 9.5 seconds adrift.

"It was an unbelievable victory today. I never thought I could win the event especially in front of so many Russian elites," said the beaming Song after the close race, which was challenged by seven ambitious Russian biathletes fielded onto the arena, aiming to win the last event on snow to reclaim the dominance of the overall gold medal tally at the Universiade.

"It was a really close final. If I missed one more target, the gold might go to the Russians." added Song, who missed two more targets than Anna in the third round shooting, which cost her two extra laps of 150 meters.

Song might have lost the gold if she had missed one more target in the final shooting round as her nearly 20-second lead only allowed her to ski one penalty lap for the lead. Fortunately, Anna also missed one target, the same result to Song, failed to make a splash in the final regular loop.

Though exhausted and nearly fell to the ground after the grueling race, the titlist still held the national flag, walking around the field to share her happiness with the fanatic home crowds.

With the host's unexpected victory as a full stop, the five-day biathlon events concluded with Russia as the biggest winner. The Russian biathletes have wrapped up six of nine golds on offer at the 10-day Universiade, eclipsing the three golds in Turino two years ago.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2009)

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