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One day in the life of a nation of 1.1b people
By Yang Xinwei (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-12 08:03

 

Abhinav Bindra of India (right) is greeted by his coach Gabriele Buhlmann after winning the gold medal in the men's 10m air rifle shooting at the Beijing Olympic Games yesterday. Guan Xin

Michael Phelps picked up his second gold in the pool, Lin Yue and Huo Liang synchronized to perfection in men's diving and Kosuke Kitajima set a new record in breaststroke, but day four of the Beijing Olympics belonged to Abhinav Bindra.

The ace shooter became the first Indian - from 1.1 billion people - to win an individual gold at the Olympics, beating a star-studded field that included defending champion Zhu Qinan of China.

Bindra's victory was particularly sweet because the Indian men's hockey team that has won eight golds - six in row from 1928 to 1956 - failed to qualify for the Games for the first time.

Zhu wept on the podium as he collected his silver medal and sobbed uncontrollably at a news conference later, showing the huge pressure Chinese athletes are under to win at home.

The good news for China was an easy win in the men's synchronized 10m platform diving. World champions, but Olympic debutantes, Lin Yue and Huo Liang shrugged off the pressure to take the lead from round one with a dive that won them a clutch of almost-perfect 9.5s and one perfect 10.

Weightlifter Chen Yanqing retained her 58kg title with a total lift of 244kg. The 29-year-old Chinese became the first woman to defend her Olympic title since women's weightlifting became part of the Games in Sydney 2000.

Compatriot Zhang Xiangxiang followed by taking the men's 62kg weightlifting title.

In the swimming pool, American star Phelps needed a little help from his teammates to keep alive the dream of an unprecedented eight golds.

Phelps had left the US team second after the first leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay, and it took an astonishing comeback from teammate Jason Lezak to pip France at the death.

The most decorated Asian swimmer of all time, Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, justified the pre-race hype by shaving 0.22 seconds off the world record to the 100m breaststroke gold.

The women's 100m butterfly gold went to Australia's Libby Trickett.

Rebecca Adlington became the first British woman to win a swimming title in nearly half a century with a last-gasp dash in the 400m freestyle.

Finland's Satu Makela-Nummela won the gold in women's trap shooting in a nail-biting finish against Zuzana Stefecekova of Slovakia.

Azerbaijan's Elnur Mammadli needed only 13 seconds to beat teenage world champion Wang Ki-chun of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to win the men's 73kg category and become his country's first Olympic judo champion.

Italy's Giulia Quintavalle won the gold in the women's 57kg judo.

Maria Valentina Vezzali of Italy won the gold medal in women's foil, her third straight first-place Olympic finish in the event.

The ROK won the men's team archery gold, beating Italy 227-225 in a pulsating final that went down to the last arrow. The win gives the ROK men their third consecutive Olympic title, and comes a day after their woman compatriots won their sixth gold in a row.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal took their first steps toward an Olympic gold with contrasting wins in men's tennis singles.

Top seed Federer mocked those who had dismissed him as "yesterday's man" with a classy 6-4, 6-2 win against Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Nadal dropped a set to Italy's Potito Starace before winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

Agencies contributed to the story

(China Daily 08/12/2008 page1)