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August 14, 2008

China's Zhang wins gold in individual archery

BEIJING (AP) China's Zhang Juan Juan won the gold medal in women's individual archery Thursday, beating South Korea's Park Sung-hyun whose country had won every Olympic medal in the event since 1984.

Zhang, the 27th seed in qualifying, defeated all three members of the South Korean team champions in the final three rounds.

In front of a boisterous crowd that braved heavy rain, Zhang capped her unlikely run by beating the defending gold medalist, top-seeded Sung-hyun, 110-109.

"I had a dream for the gold," Zhang said. "When I was competing, I calmed myself down."

Zhang trailed 109-101 before scoring nine of 10 on her final shot and sending her rain-soaked fans into a frenzy.

"I think this is the result of the efforts of all the Chinese archers," Zhang said. "I think the gold today should also be attributed to the cheers and spectators, and to my confidence and composure."

To win gold, Zhang had to beat each member of South Korea's Olympic team champions. First she defeated Joo Hyun-jung, the No. 3 seed, 106-101 in the quarterfinals. Next was No. 2 seed Yun Ok-hee, who she beat 115-109 in the semifinals to tie the Olympic record score Park had set just hours earlier. Then, she beat Park.

Park wiped tears away during the press conference after the gold-medal matchup.

"I do regret the result," she said. "I am very sad in a way because I feel I may have broken the tradition set by those archers who were before me. However, I feel that by winning the silver, it will make me crave the gold more and make me appreciate the gold more in the future, so I think it's a good experience."

Park said she hopes there won't be as much pressure on other South Korean archers.

"It will be less burdensome now," she said. "It's OK to not win gold. It's not a must for them anymore."

Yun won the bronze medal with a 109-106 win over North Korea's Kwon Un Sil. Yun defeated American Khatuna Lorig 111-105 in the quarterfinals.

Lorig competed for the Unified Soviet Team in 1992 and with the Republic of Georgia in 1996 and 2000. She worried about her family who remain in Georgia where new explosions were heard Thursday amid a shaky cease-fire with Russia, but she was able to focus on archery.

"I actually shot really well, with the way I feel," she said. "It just wasn't meant to be, I guess."

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