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Roundup: China sweeps 8 table tennis golds in Paralympics
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09:41, September 12, 2008

The table tennis tournament at the Beijing Paralympics wrapped up its individual events here on Thursday as China won four more golds, making its total to eight.

The tournament is divided into 10 classes depending on their disabilities. The smaller the number is, the more severe the disability is.

The individual events offered 16 gold medals - eight each for men and women -- after combining several classes into the same categories.

In men's competitions, Chinese Ge Yang beat his teammate Ma Lin in men's class 10 match 3-1, winning his first Paralympic title.

"Mom, dad, I made it! I love you!" Ge burst into tears when he called his family in the mixed zone.

"In 2004, I had a very good chance to win the gold, but I failed, and I have prepared for four years for this moment. During the past four years, I have thought about retiring. I have been through a lot, but I finally made it.

"I am the most hard-working on the team. I know I am not a born table tennis player, and I know I can only improve with tremendous efforts and practice," Ge said.

Chinese Chen Gang in men's class 8 won a gold medal earlier, beating Poland's Piotr Grudzien 3-1.

"Words are not enough to describe the importance of this gold to me," said Chen, who had been a semi-pro table tennis player before he lost his left leg in a car accident.

In the morning's action, Chinese Feng Panfeng triumphed in the men's class 2 final and then dedicated the gold to his coach Heng Xin.

"My coach and I have been working together for over nine years," he said.

Chinese Ye Chaoqun in men's class 7 won a silver, following a 3-1 loss to German Jochen Wollmert.

In the women's class 9 final, Lei Lina downed Liu Meili 3-0 in an all-Chinese championship match.

Five-time Paralympic gold medalist in women's class 8, 51-year-old Zhang Xiaoling, won a bronze for China after beating French Claire Mairie 3-0.

Mairie's teammate, Thu Kamkasomphou helped France win the first gold in the tournament, while Christophe Durand and Vincent Boury added two for France.

Russian Natalia Martyasheva and Yulia Ovsyannikova finished 1-2 in women's class 6-7 competition.

Martyasheva said after the match that it was a "magnificent performance for her," as her teammate had much more international experience than she did.

"They (the gold and silver medals) are very important because table tennis used to be dominated by Asian countries, and there are Chinese and Korean players in the category," Russian coach Nikolay Kirpichnikov said.

"It is important for Russia to have two players in the same final match. It was absolutely a surprise for me," he added.

A seven-time Paralympics veteran, German Rainer Schmidt, finished fourth in men's class 6 in his last international competition. The 43-year-old has decided to retire after the Beijing Games.

Schmidt, who made his Paralympic debut in 1984 in New York, had collected four golds and four silvers in the past six Games.

China tops the table tennis tally with 15 medals including eight golds, followed by France in five and Germany in three.

The team events will take place on Saturday.

Source: Xinhua

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