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Goalball: China's debutants win men's gold, women's silver at Paralympics
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15:50, September 15, 2008

Hosts China, the debutants at the Paralympics, became the biggest winner by claiming a gold and a silver in the men's and women's goalball tournament respectively at the BIT Gymnasium on Sunday.

The men's final between China and Lithuania was the most exciting and most incredible match. Facing the world champions, China rallied from 6-2 behind to edge the rivals 9-8 in the end.

Lithuania showed their supremacy from the very beginning and kept their 6-2 lead at halftime. China tried very hard to narrow the gap to 7-6. In the last minute of the match, a goal added for Lithuania almost dashed China's hope.

However, the miracle came with only 40 seconds to go when China's star thrower Chen Liangliang brought down the house to score twice for a tie.

Furthermore, a penalty throw was awarded to China in the last seconds and Yao Yongquan sealed the win with a beautiful throw.

The game was described by the Lithuanian coach as a movie and the happy end went to China.

China's coach Zhang Yong said it was really a thrilling duel, as well as an excellent game. "The Lithuanian players are good, but our players are more outstanding," he said.

The Chinese women played a very hard and close match against the United States, the silver medallists in Athens. The Americans won 6-5 in the end. China, the most stable team among all, once powered past the United States 4-0 in the preliminary stage.

"The Chinese goalball teams have made rapid progress in recent years," said China coach Shao Baolin. "And the women's team made a good performance during all the nine games at the Paralympics."

On the men's third-place playoff, the silver medallists from Athens Sweden outplayed the Athens bronze medallists the United States 5-2.

Slovenia kept their perfect record in the preliminary stage, and even defeated the world champions Lithuania. However they began to lose their force as entering the quarterfinals and suffered three losses in a row. They finally finished eighth after going down to Finland 6-5.

The defending gold medallists Denmark, far away behind what they were four years ago, only got the fifth, let alone their dream for the third straight gold medal.

On the women's court, Denmark routed Sweden 3-2 and won the bronze medal, which was their first podium finish in 20 years.

The Paralympic goalball tournament, kicking off on Sept. 7, featured 12 men's teams and eight women's teams and concluded here on Sunday.

Source: Xinhua

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