Olympics: Gold surge puts China back on topBy Talek Harris
LONDON – China surged back to the top of the London Games medals table Sunday as they completed a historic badminton clean-sweep and edged towards diving perfection.
Led by the legendary Lin Dan and diving royal Wu Minxia, China were two gold medals clear of the United States with 30 to 28, well clear of hosts Britain on 16. With one week to go, just over half of the 302 golds have been handed out.
At Olympic Stadium, Japan’s 2004 winner Koji Murofushi took bronze in the hammer-throw behind Hungary’s Kristzian Pars and defending champion Primoz Kozmus. Japan lie 15th in the medal tally, below China and the two Koreas.
But China’s “Super Dan” provided the day’s highlight as he edged a gripping final with top seed Lee Chong Wei in a match which may prove the culmination of their great rivalry.
With customary mental toughness, Lin battled back from a game down to win 15-21, 21-10, 21-19, adding to his list of accolades as he became the first men’s singles player to win the Olympic title twice.
Shortly afterwards, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng won the men’s doubles final 21-16, 21-15 against Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, clinching the fifth and last badminton title for China.
“Lee Chong Wei is such a brilliant rival that I treasure the chances to play against him,” said Lin, who ripped off his shirt and dashed around Wembley Arena in an extravagant celebration after his win.
“We are very good friends and I welcome him when he comes to China and hope he comes frequently.”
China’s team had been rocked when women’s doubles top seeds Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli were among eight players disqualified in a match-throwing scandal which prompted a public apology from their head coach, Li Yongbo.
But they won the women’s doubles regardless, as well as the mixed doubles and the women’s singles, through Li Xuerui in an all-Chinese final, to become the first country to take all five since badminton’s Olympic debut in 1992.
Meanwhile, Wu won the women’s 3m springboard gold medal to draw level with her ex-partner, “diving queen” Guo Jingjing, as the Olympics’ most decorated diver.
Afterwards, she played down revelations from her father – which sparked debate about China’s sports system – that Wu wasn’t told of her grandparents’ deaths, or that her mother had cancer, for fear of disrupting her training.
“I think it’s not only Chinese athletes who are separated from their families. Parents seldom come to our training base, however we are like a big family, we train together from different bases,” she said.
“Maybe there is some distance from your real family, however the distance will stop us feeling they are not beside us and their support.
“Now there is the technology where we can ring every day and I feel lots of care from my family all the time. I choose to be a diver, so I will pursue this goal and fulfil my dream.”
China’s Zhou Lulu won the women’s Olympic over-75kg weightlifting gold in a new world record, and Zou Kai was crowned as China’s most successful Olympic gymnast when he won his fifth gold medal, in the men’s floor routine.