China rises atop medal tally, Perilli shoot 1st Olympic medal for San Marino

2021-07-29 16:35:54 GMT2021-07-30 00:35:54(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TOKYO, July 29 (Xinhua) -- China overtook Japan to top the medal standings at the Tokyo Olympics Games on Thursday on the back of record-breaking performances of its female swimmers and table tennis players.

China won three gold medals on Day 6 to bring its medal total to 31, 15 of which are gold. The host nation also lifted its gold tally to 15 after claiming two gold medals in judo, but its medal total is six behind China's. The United States remain the third with 14 golds and 38 medals in total.

The Chinese began their gold rush Thursday in the swimming pool when Zhang Yufei won her first Olympic gold in the women's 200m butterfly, setting a new Olympic record of two minutes and 03.86 seconds.

The 23-year-old also claimed silver in the 100m butterfly earlier this week. Americans Regan Smith (2:05.30) and Hali Flickinger (2:05.65) took silver and bronze respectively in the 200m butterfly.

About an hour later, Zhang, together with her fellow countrywomen Yang Junxuan, Tang Muhan and Li Bingjie, stormed to gold in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay with a new world record time of 7:40.33.

"Back in 2015, home fans called me 'the next swimming queen of China,' apparently with their best wishes for me, but now, I can say in Tokyo, I haven't let them down and I will keep working hard to make myself worthy," Zhang told a press conference after the team relay.

Five-time event winners the United States had to settle for silver in 7:40.73, and former world record holders and Beijing 2008 winners Australia took bronze in 7:41.29.

China's third gold came in table tennis, which saw world No. 1 Chen Meng overcome Sun Yingsha 4-2 in an all-Chinese women's singles final.

Both in their maiden Olympic appearance, Chen and Sun showcased their quality attack, before Chen emerged the winner 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4 and 11-9.

"The Olympic Games has been long-cherished dream of mine. When the final was over and my coach gave me a big hug, I had so much wanted to say, but started from nowhere. The gold medal is the best reward for both of us, my coach and myself," Chen told a press conference after the gold medal match.

"Sha Sha (nickname for Sun Yingsha) is my teammate. She's young and very aggressive in the game. We know each other so well, so I know we both gave all out in the final despite the result," she said. "I hope, starting from today, the era of Cheng Meng has arrived for real."

Earlier in the day, local favorite Mima Ito bagged the bronze medal after beating Yu Mengyu from Singapore 4-1.

History was made for European nation San Marino, which picked up its first ever Olympic medal when Alessandra Perilli shot 29 targets in the women's trap shooting final to take home a bronze.

San Marino fist competed in the Rome Games in 1960.

"This is not my first Olympics but this is the first medal for me and for my country. We are a small country but very proud," said 33-year-old Perilli, telling the young generation "keep practising sports and dream."

Slovak shooter Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova survived the duel against American Kayle Browning to win the gold with an Olympic record of 43 hit targets, while Browning came back from a sluggish start to settle for a silver.

Japan continued its dominance in judo when Aaron Wolf and Shori Hamada won the men's -100kg and women's -78kg division respectively on Thursday.

In gymnastics, U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee rallied to take the women's all-around title after her teammate, defending champion Simone Biles withdrew from the competition due to "a medical issue."

The 18-year-old Lee won gold with 57.433 points, followed by Brazil's Rebeca Andrade in 57.298 points. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC)'s Angelina Melnikova grabbed the bronze with 57.199 points.

New Zealand and Ireland won their first gold medals at Tokyo in the rowing regatta.

Two-time world champions Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast of New Zealand came from behind to win the gold medal in the women's pair competition, and Ireland's Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy rowed to gold in the lightweight men's double sculls.

For the upcoming competition, China has ensured gold and silver medals in both badminton mixed doubles and table tennis men's singles as the all-China finals were set for the two events.

The badminton mixed doubles final will feature Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong and Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping, the top two seeds at the Tokyo Olympics, while World's No.1 padder Fan Zhendong will face his teammate Ma Long, reigning Olympic and world champion.

However, in highly-watched women's volleyball preliminaries on Thursday, defending champions China suffered their third defeat to the Russian Olympic Committee team 17-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-27 and 12-15.

Having lost to Turkey and the United States in their first two preliminary matches, the Chinese team are on the edge of elimination.

Head coach Jenny Lang Ping, who has led China to triumph at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and back-to-back World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019, said the team were "really affected by Zhu Ting's wrist injury."

China had to win the remaining two preliminaries - against Italy on Saturday, who have won three matches in a row, and Argentina on Monday, to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knock-out round. Enditem

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