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Day 8: China over 200-gold mark, du Toit wins fifth gold
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15:52, September 15, 2008

by Sportswriter Gao Peng

China claimed its 200th gold medal since joining Paralympic competition in 1984 on Sunday when Liu Lei powered to victory in men's 75kg powerlifting category.

South African star swimmer Natalie du Toit won her fifth gold of these games to become the most crowned Paralympian in Beijing.

Gold medalist Liu Lei (C) of China, silver medalist Majid Farzin of Iran and bronze medalist Mu'taz Aljuneidi of Jordan pose for photos during the awarding ceremony for the men's -75 Kg final of powerlifting at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, Sept. 14, 2008. Liu Lei won the gold with 225.0 Kg. (Xinhua Photo)

China's historic 200-gold mark was reached when wheelchair-bound Liu beat a field of 11 competitors with a lift of 225kg in his last attempt. Iran's Majid Farzin failed to lift 227.5 in his third attempt and had to settle for the silver with 212.5kg.

"Today my dream came true," said the 21-year-old Liu. "My QQ (online messaging service in China) name is 'Realizing my dream in 2008' and today I made it."

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei celebrated its first gold medal of these Games with Lin Tzu-hui's win in the powerlifting women's 75kgdivision.

Chinese teamates pose for photos after the awarding ceremony for women's sitting volleyball final at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, Sept. 14, 2008. China defeated the United States 3-0 and claimed the title.(Xinhua Photo)

At the end of Day 8, China topped the medal table with 63 golds,54 silvers and 42 bronzes, equaling their record of 63 golds, won in Athens. Britain was in a distant second place with 41-23-26.

Track and field athletes again provided the impetus to China's gold rush, notching up six victories to raise their gold total to 29 in the sport.

Zhang Lixin became the leading Chinese medalist when he added the 200m and 4x400m titles to golds in 400m and 4x100m in his class.

Compatriot Guo Wei was just one gold short of Zhang's tally after taking the men's shot put F35-36. He had won the javelin and discus throw earlier this week.

Players of China celebrate their victory during the awarding ceremony for the men's goalball final at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, Sept. 14, 2008. China defeated Lithuania 9-8 and won the gold medal. (Xinhua Photo)

Cheng Changjie earned a rare gold for China in archery, while Ye Ruyi and Hu Daoliang added two wheelchair fencing golds for the hosts.

Elsewhere, Chinese sitting volleyball team successfully retained their crown after thrashing the United States 3-0 in the final, and Chinese men's goalball team defeated Lituania to grab the title.

Following her triumph in 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle, du Toit clocked a fastest time of 29.20 seconds in 50m freestyle final Sunday evening, just 0.13 ahead of Russia's Irina Grazhdanova.

Gold medalist Natalie Du Toit (C) of South Africa, silver medalist Irina Grazhdanova (L) of Russia and bronze medalist Louise Watkin of Great Britain pose for group photos during the awarding ceremony of women's 50m freestyle S9 of Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Sept. 14, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

"I'm just very relieved at the moment. This was probably my toughest race," said the 24-year-old South African, one of only two Paralympians who also took part in the Beijing Olympics.

"To come out and actually achieve the five golds I had set for myself is a big accomplishment. It's been an emotional time for me, so I'm relieved," she added.

The first female amputee to compete in an able-bodied Olympics, du Toit finished 16th among 25 competitors in the 10-kilometer open-water swim last month at the Beijing Games.

Erin Popovich of the United States just missed out on matching du Toit, placing second in the 50m freestyle in her class.

More than 4,000 athletes from 147 countries and regions are competing in 20 sports in five categories of disability, with a total of 472 gold medals up for grabs.

Source: Xinhua

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