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China retains men´s canoe double 500m Olympic title

Source: Xinhua | 08-23-2008 18:24

Special Report:   2008 Beijing Olympic Games

BEIJING, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- China's Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun claimed their second straight Olympic gold medal in the canoe double (C2) 500 meters in the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park on Saturday.

Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun of China compete in the men's canoe double (C2) 500m final at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing, China, Aug. 23, 2008. They won the gold medal. (Xinhua/Jiang Enyu)

Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun of China compete in the men's
canoe double (C2) 500m final at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
in the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing, China, Aug. 23,
2008. They won the gold medal. (Xinhua/Jiang Enyu)

Meng and Yang finished in 1 minute and 41.025 seconds, fighting off the fast Sergey Ulegin and Alexander Kostoglod of Russia who took silver in 1:41.282. Christian Gille and Thomasz Wylenzek of Germany took bronze in 1:41.964.

The victory was almost a repeat of the thrilling race in Athens in a photo finish when they won China's first gold medal in the sport.

The duo made a slow start, but quickly led with the powerful and fast strokes. They kept the lead till the finish line to the crazy roar of the home crowds.

The two fell into the water across the finish line after paddling to their exhaustion. The 25-year-old Yang hopped up and down and waved hands to the jubilant home fans after a life boat brought him on to the dock.

The defending champions are strong favorites for the Beijing Games after winning two World Cup races in June. Meng took one year off after the National Games in 2005 and returned for the Beijing Games in October 2006, only to find he had to train harder to lose weight.

The 31-year-old was over 100 kilograms then, compared with less than 90kg in 2004.

He did not pair with Yang until early this year. Chinese sports officials believed that the duo had a better chance of winning an Olympic gold when working together rather than contest in the singles.

"I returned because I could not resist the temptation of the Beijing Games, as one could have only one chance in his lifetime to compete in the Olympics on home water," Meng said earlier.

"If I missed the Games, I could regret it all through my life," he said. "I wanted to strive for a second Olympic gold and leave no regret for my sports career."