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Beijing Olympics: Taiwan target archery medals

By Sarah Munday and agencies

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said he was confident that the island’s Olympians would return home from Beijing with a record haul of medals, besting the five won in Athens.

“I hope the athletes can continue the good performance in Athens to win more medals … Many of them are capable of wining gold medals,” Ma said during a visit to the national training centre in Zuoying, southern Taiwan.

“The athletes are training very hard and their coaches are working very hard to train them and our team’s morale is very high. I am very confident” about winning, said Ma.

The president, who took office in May, gave the Olympic team a traditional red envelope containing 200,000 Taiwan dollars (6,600 US) as encouragement.

According to the island’s Olympic Committee, Taiwan is sending 80 athletes to compete in 15 events including taekwondo, archery, tennis and baseball.

Hopes are high that it can make another breakthrough in Beijing after bringing home a record two golds, two silvers and one bronze from the Athens Games in 2004.

“We are aiming to do better than last time – to win at least three gold medals,” said Tsai Chen-wei, chairman of Taiwan’s Olympic Committee.

Taiwan is betting on taekwondo defending champion Chu Mu-yen, who bagged the island’s first-ever gold medal in the men’s flyweight division in Athens.

Hopes are also high for Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung, who will make their Olympic debut in women’s tennis in Beijing.

The island’s archery teams, which collected a silver and a bronze in Athens, are also expected to do well.

Taiwan is rolling out hefty rewards for its Olympians – 12 million Taiwan dollars for a gold medal list, seven million for a silver and five million for a bronze.

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