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China rebounds in pool at Beijing Paralympics
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13:24, September 14, 2008

China regained its supremacy for the first time in the pool of the Beijing Paralympics here on Saturday when the hosts won five gold medals with five world records.

China, who topped the swimming medal table with 19 golds at the Athens Paralympics, witnessed a shock slump four years later in Beijing. Four golds out of six days only sent them to the ninth place on the swimming tally.

However, the Chinese swimmers made a strong comeback on the 7th day of the tournament, grabbing five out of 14 golds up for grab today to show their dominance in the short race.

The first gold came in the men's 100m backstroke S11. China's Yang Bozun, who refreshed the world record in 1 minute 08.40 seconds in the morning's heat, took the winning time further down to 1:07.74, shattering his world mark again.

Though the gold was what he dreamed about for long, Yang said enjoying the competitions was more important than the result.

"I didn't expect to break the world record for the second time, and also the gold, which I've been expecting for many days, finally came. But I have said that a gold and jade medal was just a part of the Paralympic Games and to enjoy and finish the competition was the most important," said the winner, adding that the aquatic center Water Cube paced him to fulfill dreams.

"I felt I was just a little fish before the race, making some ripples and getting some attention.

"But tonight, I've learned how to jump. In this water area and in the face of adversity, I chose to challenge myself, to realise my dreams and stand highest on the podium. I love the Water Cube, I love the spectators, I love everybody here." said a exciting Yang.

Yang's opening win boost his teammates' confidence in the following events. Fifteen minutes later, Xu Qing relayed to claim the title in the men's 50m butterfly S6 with another world record.

The 16-year-old Xu, who cruised fastest to the final, touched the wall first with a strong spurt in 30.79 seconds, beating the Japanese runner-up in a minor margin of 0.22 seconds. But Xu's winning time shaved a further 1.1 seconds off his world mark set in the morning's heat. Xu said his intentional quit in the first team event was paid back.

"I have been waiting for it for a whole week. I didn't compete in the men's 4x50m freestyle relay. Today, I gave it my all to win the gold medal.

"I had thought a lot before the race, the water in the Water Cube calmed me down," said a beaming Xu, who believed it was time for the hosts' swimmers to overcome the backslides.

"Before today, the Chinese swimming team only had four Gold medals and I think now is the time that we are bursting out after a long silence." said Xu.

Xu's decision was echoed in the following three 50m butterfly events. Jiang Fuying, Tian Rong and Huang Min each clinched a gold with new world record in women's S6, men's S7 and women's S7 class, ending the hosts' gold rush show.

Among them, Huang's victor over the U.S. ace swimmer Erin Popovich was a huge upset. The American had won four golds in her first four events, but was beaten by Huang's record time in a margin of 3.40 seconds. Huang said winning the formidable opponent made her dream come true.

"Erin is so strong and excellent at all the strokes. Only in this event I have a close time to her. I think it would be the only chance for me to beat her, so I made great preparation for this event. Now I'm very excited that I beat her and realized my dream." said the winner, adding that the swimming career changed her life a lot.

"It gives me more confidence in many aspects. For example, I never wore short-sleeved shirts before (I chose) swimming but now I can do it easily.

"So I want to tell all the people with disabilities, as long as we strive, we can realise our dreams. Most people with disabilities are introvert. Sport can help them change that." said a tearful Huang, who lost her left arm in an horrendous electricity accident.

A total of 20 world records fell in the pool on Saturday. After seven days of competition, the United States led the swimming tally with 15 golds, followed by China and Britain with nine.


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