Saturday, April 19, 2014


Afghanistan

At Olympics, China's Gains Continue Despite Bad Weather, Empty Seats

Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo won a gold medal in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group.
Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo won a gold medal in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group.
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By RFE/RL
Inclement weather and empty seats dogged the second day of the Summer Olympic Games in London but did nothing to topple China from its spot at the top of the medals board.

Rain and the threat of hailstorms dampened enthusiasm for many of the day's outdoor events, including skeet shooting and the women's 140-kilometer cycling road race.

British Olympics officials were also forced to hand over tickets to military troops and students after large numbers of empty seats proved an embarrassment in early competition.

But indoors, competing before a large crowd, Guo Wenjun became the second Chinese athlete to win a gold medal for shooting on July 29, taking home the top prize in the women's 10-meter air pistol competition.

Cycling gold medalist Marianne Vos of the Netherlands (center) poses alongside silver-medalist Elizabeth Armitstead of Britain and bronze-medalist Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia.
Cycling gold medalist Marianne Vos of the Netherlands (center) poses alongside silver-medalist Elizabeth Armitstead of Britain and bronze-medalist Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia.
Guo came out ahead of France's Celine Goberville and Ukraine's Olena Kostevych. Her victory followed that of her compatriot Yi Siling, who won the first gold medal of the games on July 28, in the 10-meter air rifle competition.

China surprised many spectators on the first day of competition with several medal-winning performances in swimming, a sport usually dominated by the United States and Australia.

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Read RFE/RL'S complete coverage

Among the winners was Ye Shiwen, who took the gold in the women's 400-meter individual medley with a world-record time of 4:28.43.

Ye swam so fast in some legs of the race that her recorded speed was even faster than that of a gold-medal-winning male swimmer, American Ryan Lochte.

The victory of Ye and a second Chinese swimmer, Sun Yang, was met with celebration in Beijing, where swimming fans like 30-year-old Wu Wanshi expressed hope his country would continue to dominate the sport.
Georgia's Lasha Shavdatuashvili fights with Japan's Masashi Ebinuma (in blue) during their men's 66-kilogram semifinal B judo match on July 29. Shavdatuashvili took home gold.
Georgia's Lasha Shavdatuashvili fights with Japan's Masashi Ebinuma (in blue) during their men's 66-kilogram semifinal B judo match on July 29. Shavdatuashvili took home gold.
"As a swimming enthusiast, I feel very excited and happy. I am very proud of Sun Yang," he said. "As a Chinese, I hope China's swimming team can win more gold medals in the rest of the contests."

In other events, British women's cyclist Lizzie Armistead won the first medal for the Olympic hosts, taking silver in a 140-kilometer road race in the rain. Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the event, while Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia won the bronze.

Georgia's Lasha Shavdatuashvili won a gold medal in the men's under-66 kilogram category of the judo competition. The 20-year-old Shavdatuashvili defeated the three-time European champion from Hungary, Miklos Ungvari, who took the silver.

Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo won a gold medal in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group. Cristina Iovu of Moldova won bronze in that category.

In the men's 56-kilogram weightlifting group, Azerbaijan's Valentin Hristov won bronze, finishing behind silver medalist Wu Jingbiao from China and gold medalist Yun Chol Om from North Korea.

Moldova's Cristina Iovu won bronze in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group.Moldova's Cristina Iovu won bronze in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group.
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Moldova's Cristina Iovu won bronze in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group.
Moldova's Cristina Iovu won bronze in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting group.
In swimming, Russia's 4x100-meter men's freestyle relay team won bronze by beating out prerace favorite Australia, which finished fourth. France won gold by finishing ahead of the silver medalists from the United States.

Serbia upset defending champions Hungary in a thrilling early water polo group match, powering to a 14-10 victory. Romania crushed Britain 13-4.

In fencing, Russia's Nikolai Kovalev won a bronze medal in the individual saber competition. Hungary's Aron Szilagyi won gold in that event, while Italy Diego Occhiuzzi took silver.

In men's soccer, Brazil defeated Belarus 3-1 to secure a spot in the quarterfinals tournament. The victory gives Brazil six points in Group C -- three more points than Belarus.

New Zealand and Egypt, which drew 1-1 earlier in Manchester, have one point each. Brazil plays its last group match against New Zealand while Belarus faces Egypt.

Medal favorite Spain was eliminated from men's soccer by a 1-0 upset loss to Honduras.

In basketball, the United States defeated France 98-71 in the opening game of Group A.

In Group B, Brazil's basketball team defeated Australia 75-71.

In men's soccer, Brazil defeated Belarus 3-1 to secure a spot in the quarterfinals tournament.
In men's soccer, Brazil defeated Belarus 3-1 to secure a spot in the quarterfinals tournament.
China has secured a total of 12 medals to lead the medal count after the July 29 events. So far, China has won six gold, four silver, and two bronze medals. The United States is in second with 11 medals -- three gold, five silver, and three bronze medals. Italy is in third with a total of seven medals -- two gold, three silver, and two bronze.

Ajmal Faizada, one of only six Afghan athletes competing in the London Olympics and the only Afghan judoka, was eliminated in the under-66 judo category after a loss to Hungary's Miklos Ungvari.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan shortly after his loss, Faizada expressed disappointment at his early elimination.

"No, I never imagined [such a loss]. I worked hard," he said. "I wanted to throw my competitor, but unfortunately, I did not succeed."

In the women's under-52-kilogram division, Kosovo's Majlinda Kelmendi advanced in the competition with a win over Finland's Jaana Sundberg.

Kelmendi is competing under the Albanian flag, because her country is not recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

An Uzbek gymnast become the latest athlete to fail a doping test. Luiza Galiulina tested positive for banned substances and has been provisionally suspended from Olympic competition.


With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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