Games saw new generation Chinese athletes: Official

August 24th, 2008 - 1:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 24 (Xinhua) The Beijing Games saw the rise of the new generation Chinese athletes as more than half of the gold medals won by the country were bagged by first-time Olympians, a Chinese sports official said here Sunday. “A total of 25 individual gold medals were won by athletes who are making their Olympic debuts and they were also the main force for four gold medals in team events,” said Liu Peng, chef de mission of the Chinese delegation.

China’s 639-athlete squad has so far won 50 gold medals, 20 silver and 28 bronze medals.

Liu said almost two-thirds of China’s athletes are attending the Olympics for the first time. “The young athletes have become a major force in China’s competitive sports.”

Commenting on the performance of the Chinese athletes, Liu said the Chinese sports delegation has generally “fulfilled its mission” and its harvest at Beijing surpassed all the previous Olympic Games.

The chef de mission also thanked foreign coaches for their contributions. “The Chinese sports delegation has 38 foreign coaches and their efforts and hard work helped improve China’s competitiveness,” he said.

Despite having the maximum number of 50 golds in its bag, China’s total medals tally of 98 was second to the United States’ 107, including 34 gold medals.

Questioned on the age of several Chinese woman gymnasts, including gold medallist He Kexin, Cui Dalin, Liu said all Chinese athletes competing at the Beijing Olympics were eligible by age.

The official said the Chinese side has provided a series of legal documents, including the athletes’ passports and ID cards to the International Gymnastics Federation and it was confirmed that the athletes are eligible for the Beijing Games.

Earlier, some foreign media raised questions about the age of He, saying she might not yet be 16, the minimum age for the Olympic eligibility.

China attributed the discrepancy in He’s age to inaccurate documentation during an earlier city games and said the error has been corrected since.

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