China, US celebrate Olympic gold rush

August 11th, 2008 - 4:10 am ICT by IANS  

By Zhou Yan
Beijing, Aug 11 (Xinhua) China and the US were among the top three on the medal tally Sunday, with China holding six golds and two silvers, and the US two golds, two silvers and four bronzes as Beijing Olympics entered the second day. After two gold medals on the opening day in shooting and women’s weightlifting, China bagged the third, after Guo Wenjun claimed the women’s 10-meter air pistol title Sunday with 492.3 points.

Diving duo Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia, defended their synchronised three-meter springboard crown, while Xian Dongmei won women’s 52 kg judo gold and Long Qingquan bagged another gold in men’s 66 kg weightlifting.

US swimming superstar Michael Phelps snatched the first of his projected eight golds with a sensational swim in the men’s 400-meter individual medley final, and reset his own world record at four minutes 3.84 seconds.

Despite media speculations that China, which hauled the second largest gold medals after the US in Athens four years ago, would be a strong challenger.

However, the Chinese and Americans patted each other on day two and celebrated their wins.

When Phelps won his gold Sunday morning, he received warm applauses from flag-waving compatriots and millions of Chinese audience who watched in the Water Cube or on TV.

“He’s cool,” said Beijing schoolboy Song Xinrong, 12. “Actually, Phelps is the only swimmer I know.”

Song, who didn’t have a ticket to watch Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley final, was happy to see his idol enter semifinal in 200-meter freestyle Sunday afternoon.

“It’s very impressive indeed. I’ve learned breast stroke, but I am nowhere near him.”

The Chinese and Americans are all looking forward to the men’s basketball game Sunday night, though China is unlikely to win.

China and NBA star Yao Ming even said jokingly he would retire if the Chinese beat the US team — to explain how difficult it would be to win the game.

“It’s interesting to observe that the hardest-won tickets to the Beijing Games are for men’s basketball and Liu Xiang’s 110-meter hurdles,” said Yao, who plays for the Houston Rockets in the NBA.

Yao and his Chinese team are eyeing a top eight finish at the Games.

On Sunday, Hu congratulated Bush on the victory of Michael Phelps, whom he described as “an excellent athlete of the United States”, and hoped that Phelps would “achieve more outstanding results” in the Olympic swimming competition.

The two presidents held friendly and candid talks, despite Saturday’s tragic incident in central Beijing in which one American citizen was killed and one injured.

Hu took the opportunity to express sympathy over the incident. “I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to you and the family of the victims over this unfortunate incident,” he said.

A man attacked Todd and Barbara Bachman of Lakeville, Minneapolis, with a knife while touring the 13th-century Drum Tower of Beijing Saturday. Todd Bachman died from knife wounds while his wife suffered multiple stab wounds but was in a stable condition after an eight-hour surgery.

The Bachman couple were the relatives of US men’s volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon.

Police said the assailant, 47-year-old Tang Yongming from Hangzhou of east China’s Zhejiang Province, later killed himself by jumping off a 130-foot high balcony on the Drum Tower.

Spokesman Wang Wei with the Beijing Games Organising Committee said the incident was an “isolated criminal act” and was not targeted at any particular country or people.

“Beijing is safe, but we do need to tighten security in tourist destinations.”

Assistant coach Larsen Ronald for US men’s volley said the incident could have happened anywhere else. “Bad things happen everywhere in the world and it has nothing to do with anything else,” he told reporters after the US team beat Venezuela 3-2 in the men’s preliminary round in pool A.

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