Mon, September 10, 2012
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Paralympic Roundup: China dominates, Games unique

2012-09-09 22:19:10 GMT2012-09-10 06:19:10(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LONDON, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- China showed its Paralympic domination again with a new record of 95 gold, 71 silver and 65 bronze medals to top the tally for the third consecutive time at the London 2012 which concluded here on Sunday.

China, who had made history in Beijing 2008 of topping the tally with 89-70-52, refreshed all its records in gold, silver, bronze and total in London 2012. China made its Paralympic debut in New York 1984 with only two titles, and first stood top of the medal table in Athens 2004 with 63-46-32.

Athletics and swimming were China's two gold mines which contributed 57 titles.

In London, Russia overtook hosts Britain to stand second in the last with 36-38-28. In Beijing 2008, Russia ranked eighth with 18- 23-22.

Britain, the runner-up in Beijing 2008 with 42-29-31, stood third as hosts with 34-43-43. Its gold tally even dropped from 35 taken in Athens 2004 where it finished second. But Britain's total medals reached 120, more than that of Russia.

A total of 252 world records were refreshed in the 11-day competitions.

About 4,200 athletes from 164 countries and regions attended the Paralympics.

The top gold medalist was the 20-year-old Australian swimmer Jacqueline Freney, who suffers celebral palsy. She stood on top podium of all the eight events she attended, fulfilling an incredible grand slam. She also broke three world records.

Her parents managed public swimming pools for a living and so swimming has always been a huge part of her life.

Freney was awarded an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship in May 2008, and then took three bronze medals in the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Australian swimmer Matthew Cowdrey and American swimmer Jessica Long also got eight medals but five of them were gold.

Also in pool, boasting two gold medals and a new world record, the 17-year-old British swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, only 1.23m tall, was long held the limelight in the Aquatics Center.

Simmonds had been the youngest-ever Paralympian to win two golds in Beijing 2008 when she was 13 years old. Her legend went on in London 2012. And she was one of the two British athletes extinguishing the Paralympic Flame at the closing ceremony.

China's veteran markwoman Zhang Cuiping took the first Paralympic gold in the women's R2-10m air rifle, breaking the 10- year-old world record with nine shots out of the final 10 above 10.3 points.

China's 15-year-old swimmer Yang Yang shone with taking four golds and breaking two world records. He is one of China's top gold-takers in London and the most shining Paralympic debutant.

China embraced its 300th gold in Paralympic history on Sept. 6. The landmark gold, which was also China's 68th gold in London, was clinched by amputee Zhao Xu in the men's 100m-T46 final.

"The win is a breakthrough as China never got any medal in this event before," said Zhao after the race.

In the track and field, the big cheers were reserved for the superstars David Weir from Britain and Oscar Pistorius from South Africa.

Weir captured the hearts of the domestic audience by taking the T54 men's gold medals over 800m, 1500m and 5000m on the track before sprinting to victory in the marathon on the roads around central London.

The British hero's total of four athletics gold medals was only matched by the T53 wheelchair racer Raymond Martin from the United States who triumphed over 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m in his classification.

Pistorius, the Blade Runner, had a Games full of mixed emotions.

He suffered a shock defeat by Alan Oliveira from Brazil in the T44 men's 200m, his first defeat in Paralympic competition over the distance and his controversial comments about the legality of his opponent's racing blades made headlines around the world.

However, Pistorius bounced back to anchor South Africa's T42/ T46 4x100m relay team to victory in a world record time of 41.78, but then finished out of the medals in the 100m, an event he had won in Beijing 2008 although, in fairness, had hardly trained for in the past four years.

An emotional story occured in the London Olympic and Paralympic main stadium, which boasts a capacity of 80,000, on Sept. 1 as all spectators applauded simultaneously to the injured Djibouti runner Houssein Omar Hassan when he stumbled across the finishing line of men's 1,500m-T46 heat.

Timing 11 minutes and 23.50 seconds, Hassan, the only athlete representing the small African country to the London Paralympics, was no doubt the last finisher. But no one at the scene regarded him as a loser.

It was the first time for Djibouti to attend Paralympic Games, and the 1,500m-T46 was the only event Hassan, 35, competed. He foot got injured at the beginning of the race but he continued to finish the race.

Just as Sebastian Coe, the Chair of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, had said at the opening ceremony,"Sport is about what you can do, what you can achieve, the limits you can reach, the barriers you can break. Sport shows what is possible. Sport refuses to take no for an answer."

In his speech at the closing ceremony, Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, regarded the London 2012 Paralympics as simply amazing and unique.


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