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Dress like a butterfly, sting like a bee

By Si Tingting (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-27 10:31

Tang Lin may look like a butterfly, but she can still sting like a bee. Or throw like an angry gorilla.

With her raven hair framing her face like Cleopatra and a Gucci watch on her wrist, the Sydney Games gold medalist has discarded the white suit of a judoka and is looking forward to her new role as an Olympic 'shiban' (referee) at next summer's judo competition.

Tang Lin(left) defeated Celine Lebrun of France to win the 78kg judo title at the 2000 Sydney Games.[File Photo]
"I promise that I will be a fair judge," the 31-year-old told China Daily last week from an English-language training camp in a suburb of Beijing.

"Right now, fairness is even more important to me than being faster, higher, stronger," she said, referring to the Olympic motto.

Tang, a brawling tomboy from Sichuan Province who built herself into a champion judoka in Sydney seven years ago at the macho half-heavyweight class, has blossomed since retiring from professional competition in 2001.

Even this highly trained martial artist now finds herself defenceless against all the attention her body-hugging, zebra-striped dress attracts with its low-cut back.

"I change my hairstyle pretty often these days, but I'm not mindlessly following fashion trends. I'm more keen on creating my own," she said.

Hence the pearl necklace, coordinated to perfectly match her black and white dress.

Not that she will be wearing anything like this to the Beijing Games next year. Tang draws a firm line between the personal and the professional. And she takes her profession very seriously indeed.

She stressed that she would not be showing any favoritism to Chinese contestants at the Beijing Games, where she is likely to adjudicate the judo competitions.

Being a judoka for more than 12 years and having lost a national competition because of an unfair ruling, Tang understands how partial judging can impede an athlete's career.

"A single slip in judgment can waste dozens of years of hard work," she added.

Tang said that judo competitions are more of a challenge to judge than, say, track and field events.

"The result cannot be measured by a stopwatch or by a ruler, and sometimes it is based on the judge's own, subjective opinion," she said. "The judoka's temperament or personality can also influence a judge's decision-making."

Tang defeated Celine Lebrun from France with a yusei-gachi, a win by decision, to net her the Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000.

Both judoka were well matched in the final, but the two judges awarded Tang the win because she was the aggressor.

Tang said she would keep her feelings in check while judging the next Olympics.

She also has to refresh the English skills she learnt five years ago before she can officially qualify for the job.

As such, she is devoting 12 hours a day, six days a week to an intensive 10-week course run by English First (EF), the Official Language Training Services Supplier of the Beijing Games. EF will help 120 Chinese aspiring judges with their English proficiency before the final qualification test.