China dominates Paralympics

The third day of the Paralympics competition was marked by the continued overall dominance of China. Yesterday morning, China’s track-and-field athletes picked up two gold medals. Chun Hua Li threw 28.20 meters to beat the world record and win gold in the women’s discus for athletes with uncontrollable muscular spasms in one half of their body (F37) and Wei Guo won the men’s shot for athletes with problems in dynamic balance (F35), throwing a personal best of 14.20m ahead of Latvia’s Edgars Bergs and French world-recordholder Thierry Cibone. Juan Wang picked up silver behind Austria’s Andrea Scherney in the women’s long jump for athletes with single amputations (F44-46). In order to ensure a maximum of fairness in a field of competitors with varying types and degrees of disability, Paralympic athletes are assigned a classification. Only athletes on the same classification level compete with each other. The classification process is error-prone and can be manipulated. It is often made on national level but standards vary from country to country. A discus-throw champion from Iran lost his gold medal yesterday, when organizers decided he had been assigned to compete in the wrong disability category, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said. Iranian Mokhtar Nourafsan on Sunday won the men’s discus throw in the F54 category for people with no trunk or leg function. But an ICP official decided later that Nourafsan should have competed in the F55 category instead, which is reserved for athletes who have no leg function but can rotate their spine. Nourafsan’s gold instead went to runner-up Liang Fan from China. By yesterday afternoon, China led the medals standings with 29 (14 gold, 10 silver, five bronze), followed by Great Britain with 21 (nine gold, five silver and seven bronze) and Spain with 22 overall but fewer gold medals than Britain (seven). Hong Kong was a surprising fourth, with six golds, four silver and a bronze, thanks mainly to the dominating performance of its wheelchair fencers. The IPC announced yesterday that no positive drug tests were discovered among the 209 tests conducted so far in the Games. Away from the competition, chief Games organizer Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki announced she would sue the Avriani newspaper over accusations that she and her associates had «plundered public finances.» «With regard to the scurrilous and libelous personal attack on me in today’s issue of the newspaper Avriani, and its antecedents, I am compelled to have recourse to the protection of the Greek law. There is no other way to safeguard the honor and respect due to me and to the work done by the staff and management of (the organizing committee),» she said. Avriani has based its attacks on a report by two retired judges who were removed from the organizers’ audit committee in July.

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