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Chinese rowers' performance under par at Beijing Olympics
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10:08, August 10, 2008

China didn't meet the expectations in the first heats day of the Olympic regatta Beijing on Saturday.

Women's pair of Wu You and Gao Yulan, winners of 2008 first two stops of World Cup series, finished third in their heat, failing to win a direct berth to the Final A.

"They were a little bit nervous, losing their usual style," said Wei Di, head of China's water sports governing body. "But it's not a bad thing to find a problem in the first round. We can improve on that and give it all in the finals."

Li Qin and Tian Liang, who remained unbeaten in women's double sculls since the 2007 world championships, managed to earn a spot in the Final A after crossing the finish line first. However in the last 200 meters, the Czech duo almost surpassed them. Li and Tian sped up to maintain the lead.

Li and Tian's archrival of New Zealand took another direct berth in the Final A.

"Since today is heats round, some good rowers may not perform to their best. So we can not judge what their real form is," added Wei.

Another surprise was that Zhang Liang, a promising Chinese rower in men's singles, failed to turn up in the event, citing a wrong memory.

"Zhang thought he was the third heat but actully he was in the second," said Wei. "According to the FISA (world rowing governing body), he was then disqualified in his second event men's doubles."

Zhang's disqualification cost his partner Su Hui, an experienced rower from Shannxi Province, a victim.

The duo finished first in the last Olympic qualifier in Poznan of Poland in June, thus earning a place in the Olympic regatta.

Despite a poor start into the Olympic regatta, Wei still showed great confidence in the Chinese rowers, expecting China's long yearning golden breakthrough in rowing.

In previous Olympics, China took two silver medals and two bronzes.


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