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Chinese Rower Xu Eyes Olympic Gold
    2008-07-17 08:46:22     Xinhua
By Sportswriter Li Baojie 

China stands a good chance of winning its first ever Olympic rowing gold medal on home water, and among the high hopes is Xu Dongxiang.

The best results China ever had at the Olympics were a silver in the women's coxed four in 1988 and another in the women's coxless double sculls in 1996.

Xu's latest victory in the women's lightweight double sculls in the World Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, early last month has raised her confidence.

She will compete in the women's lightweight double sculls in the Beijing Games. However, her partner hasn't been decided yet.

The 25-year-old made her Olympic debut in the 2004 Athens Games, in which she finished in a disappointing fifth while her water sports compatriots Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun ended China's gold drought in canoe/kayak.

Xu said she got motivation each time when watching TV replay of the canoeists' thrilling win in the men's canoe double (C2) 500 meters in Athens.

Two years later, she arose into the world's top rowers by claiming titles at the Asian Games in Doha and the World Rowing Championships in Eton, Britain.

In the four-year preparations for Beijing Olympics, Xu increased training intensity.

She said she trained eight hours on average per day and rowed around 300 km every week. "It is exhausting and sometimes over my physical limits."

Xu, who took up rowing at the age of 15, admitted that she has thought of cutting back on workload, but the dream of winning gold made her keep on.

"Now I am addicted to rowing," she said. "I can hardly describe the feeling when I cross the finish line."

Apart from Xu's crew, the women's double sculls and the lightweight men's four, both world champions, will also strive to fulfill the nation's decade-old dream for an Olympic rowing gold.

Tens of thousands of home spectators also may help them achieve the feat.

Coach Zhou Qinian, however, warned that home crowds might also exert tremendous pressure on the athletes. "The athletes need to be determined and cool-minded enough as mental state are crucial to the final results."

"I feel I am not slower than the top rowers from Romania and Australia. I will grasp the opportunity to win a gold medal," Xu said.


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