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Telescope, flag and smile on wheelchair: spectators and shooters enjoy Paralympics
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09:34, September 08, 2008

One may think the Olympics returned to Beijing again seeing the spectators in the shooting range hall, had he or she not seen the emblem of the Paralympics painted on the wall.

Sunday, the first competition day of the Beijing Paralympics, saw two gold medals on offer. Audience stands were occupied before qualification round of the first event, the women's 10-meter air rifle standing, started at 9 a.m. in the morning.

Holding a telescope, Shi Xuejing attentively followed up the rankings of shooters, although no Chinese entered the final of the women's 10-meter air rifle standing.

"The fact that they could come here already made them heroes," she said, "it is their participation, rather than the gold medals, that made the competition fascinating."

Shang Yuliang in a wheelchair is a doctor from a clinic in the Quyang county of neighboring Hebei Province, some 220 kilometers away from Beijing.

"Compared with the Olympic athletes, those on the Paralympic arena are more inspiring. They tided over more difficulties to come here," said the middled-aged man.

He noted that the Beijing Paralympics granted the world a chance to understand China, and the abled people a chance to understand their disabled peers.

However, most spectators seemed to be enjoying the competition itself.

In the men's 10-meter air pistol SH1 event, in which two Chinese shooters entered the final, many of their compatriots waved national flags and applaused after each shot from the audience stand. "Come on, Chinese team," they shouted, with smiles on their faces.

"From this competition, I changed my view towards the disabled," said Wang Yaodong, a retiree who was accompanied by his wife to watch the competition.

"At first, I couldn't stand seeing them competing for such a long time," he said, "but later I was touched by their adamancy. They were trying their every best, which coincided with the Olympic spirit."

In fact, athletes enjoyed the competitions as well.

Australian shooter Libby Kosmala was the oldest in the Beijing Paralympic shooting competitions. The ten-time Paralympian just made a narrow miss from the medals by 0.1 point.

Admitting that in the competition, the 66-year-old on wheelchair was "a little bit tired", she didn't appear extremely depressed.

Kosmala had competed in swimming, track and field, archery before reaping 10 Paralympic shooting gold medals. This time she said, "it's my first final competition after 20 years. I enjoy it."

Chinese shooter Zhang Nan finished 11th in the qualification round of the air rifle event and was hence shut out of the final.

With a long ponytail, the 40-year-old who started shooting in 1992 appeared younger than her age.

"Gold medals don't just mean the best of capabilities," said the disappointed, "it reflects the spirit of an athlete. This is the reason why I have been keeping on for so many years."

Source: Xinhua

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