Double happiness as history made

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2008, 12:00am

Phelps sets record for the most golds won by an athlete at a single Games; China secures biggest single-day gold medals haul, taking tally to a record

China celebrated its greatest day in Olympic history as diving diva Guo Jingjing led a remarkable haul of eight gold medals to pile the pressure on the US for sporting supremacy.

The haul swelled China's gold medal tally to 35, eclipsing their previous record of 32 in Athens four years ago. The haul also beat the six golds they won on a single day in Sydney in 2000.

On a day of records, Guo also became the most successful woman diver in Olympic history, then denied media reports she was retiring.

China now has 16 more gold medals than the US and 61 medals in all, four behind America's total of 65.

But deputy sports minister Cui Dalin warned that the hosts could not maintain that frantic pace and the medals would dry up with the Games now in their second week.

'With events like track and field, China's pace in winning gold medals will slow down. Chinese athletes are not strong contenders in many events in the second half of the Games,' said Mr Cui, who is also the deputy chef de mission of the Chinese delegation.

'Most of the Chinese competitors have fully displayed their abilities to realise the goal of achieving good results on home soil.

'We are especially pleased by our athletes in judo, shooting and weightlifting. But every single medal is meaningful and won through painstaking efforts by our athletes.'

Wei Jizhong, a former deputy sports minister, said China's success was helped by the state-funded sports system's new policy of targeting sports it was not traditionally associtaed with.

'We have added that extra edge in winning in sports not known as a China speciality,' he said. 'China has so far punched above its weight while the US has underachieved.'

Guo congratulated her fellow gold-medal winning athletes yesterday - in shooting, rowing, wrestling, gymnastics, table tennis and badminton - along with the 631 other members of Team China.

'We are very happy with today's results,' she said after winning the individual 3metre springboard last night and surpassing Fu Mingxia as the most successful diver of all time, with four gold medals and two silvers.

'We do what we can do. We give our best. I am sure all Chinese athletes are doing their best. That is why we are achieving great results. We congratulate them all,' said the 26-year-old, who added she loved diving too much to give it up.

'We don't really care about our individual performance. We just give our best everyday. We can't do anything special [individually].'

The medal romp was marked by a historic first in rowing, with a come-from-behind victory in the women's quadruple sculls, and a rare women's wrestling gold by Wang Jiao.

Popular badminton star Lin Dan captured the Olympic gold he craved in the coveted men's singles. He collapsed to the ground before throwing his racquet and shoes into the crowd.

Earlier in the day, marksman Qiu Jian cashed in on a blunder by his American rival in the last round to be gift-wrapped the gold in the 50 metres rifle three positions.

In gymnastics, Zou Kai and Xiao Qin carried on China's momentum on the mat by winning titles in the men's floor exercises and pommel horse respectively.

Wang Nan, Zhang Yining and Guo Yue proved invincible in the women's table tennis team, starting a possible clean sweep of all four titles on offer in the sport.