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Meng and Yang Make History for China's Canoeing
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Chinese Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun, hot favorites in men's C2 500m race, won the final in one minute 40.278 seconds on Saturday at Athens Olympic regatta, the first gold for China's canoeing sport in the Olympic history.

Meng, excited over his victory, said, "we are prepared for today and I tried our best."

"It's not a coincidence after years' hard training. Our efforts are not in vain. And we finally realized our dream," Meng said.

"We were slow at the start but we ignored the disadvantage and just concentrated on the finish line. I could not believe that we won the first place and I had thought that we came third or fourth."

Meng, 28, from Zhejiang Province of China, spoke highly of his partner Yang, saying that their good partnership proved success.

Yang, bursted into tears, said that he was much satisfied with the result after years' hard training and the stiff competitions.     

"I'm very proud to win a gold for our country. I never imagined this and this is incredible. I won a gold, the very first canoeing gold for our country," he said.

21-year-old Yang only partnered with Meng for months and made great achievements.

In their debut in May's regatta of Japan's Komatsu Continental Qualification Asia of 2004, Meng and Yang, came out with the fourth world best result in 1:40.27.

In June, the duo, took all by surprise to crown Duisburg World Cup, the first ever world champions for Chinese canoemen.

Meng talked about their coach Marek Ploch from Poland, saying, "he brought us new training idea, which we didn't understand and we had quarrels with him sometimes. He has been coaching us for two years and seven months, and his coaching capability is fully manifested today."

Xiao Tian, deputy chef de mission of China to Olympics, said, "the gold bears special significance as this is crucial to promote China's 119 (the total number of golds in track and field, swimming and other water events) project."

Cuba took the silver and the bronze went to Russia.

(Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2004)

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