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Chinese Cheng Nabs First Archery Gold for Host at Beijing Paralympics

September 14th, 2008

One month later the national flag of China was hoisted again on the field where Zhang Juanjuan won the host the first Olympic gold medal in archery.

Chinese para-archer Cheng Changjie (in Chinese ???) beat Italian Marco Vitale 108-104 in men’s individual recurve w1/w2 on Sunday, the last individual event in the sport.

In the first series of the final, the 19-year-old on wheelchair didn’t start well with a 8 but progressed steadily with a 9 and a 10, achieving 27 points to beat his rival with 2 points.

He then kept the momentum to enlarge his advantage to 4 points in the second series.

Pulling himself together, the Italian showed his sharpness in the third series by posting a 10-9-9 tally. The gap was shortened to 3 points.

In the breathtaking last series, Vitale who started first aimed for a while and shot out the first arrow. A 10.

Cheng made a 9. Just two points ahead.

In the secord shot, both archers achieved 9. 99-97.

When many Chinese spectators were crossing fingers for their archer, Vitale lost his nerves. His score, a 7, gave the Chinese more hope.

Cheng managed to live up to the expectation of his supporters, finishing his performance with a third 9.

Almost all Chinese spectators stood up in excitement, while the champion unfolded a national flag and waved.

“I am so happy to be here,” said Cheng who smiled all the way to the press conference hall.

The teenage athlete lost his right leg in a car accident. “Thanks to those who supported me,” he said.

The bronze medal was grabbed by Tseng Lung-hui from Chinese Taipei, who won the hard-won medal after a shoot-off.

“I was so lucky,” he said, adding that he had recorded the performance of Cheng with his video camera, which he would bring back to show to his fellow archers. “I will tell them: look, this is the performance of the gold medalist.”

In the competition of men’s individual compound w1, Czech archer David Drahoninsky outscored world record holder British John Cavanagh 108-103. After winning the gold, the man with his hair dyed in the colors of Czech national flag rocked on his wheelchair.

Bronze medal was clinched by American shooter Jeff Fabry, who, without the right arm and leg, shot with his mouth but set the Paralympic record last Friday in the quarterfinal.

“Last Tuesday was the 30th wedding anniversary of my parents, and I will dedicate this medal to them,” said the gold medalist Drahoninsky who joked that his mom would hit him if he did not win and kiss him if he could bring back a medal.

“These competitions are really hard and I am satisfied with my performance.  In Czech Republic, it is 4:00, but many people stay awake to watch my competition on TV,” said the archer who suffered Cerebral Palsy.

The 26-year-old No. 1 seed in the event noted that he was defeated by Fabry for several times. “This time, I really wanted to meet him in the final and beat him, but unfortunately he didn’t enter the final,” he said.

While Fabry said, “the gold will have to wait four more years. I am overwhelmed by it all, but I’m happy to have won the bronze (medal). At least I won a medal and that’s what I came to do.”

Gold medal in men’s individual recurve standing was acquired by Baatarjav Dambadondog from Mongolia, who edged Frenchmen Fabrice Meunier 94-90. Chinese Chen Yegang finished third.

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