Sat, Aug 14, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan goes for gold as Olympics start

FUN AND GAMES Thousands of athletes have gathered for the international sports competition, and Taiwan is hoping that it can make history during this year's event

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN ATHENS

The 2004 Athens Olympic Games, which are the biggest in Olympic history -- involving over 11,099 athletes, 20,000 reporters and costing over US$20 billion -- were to be launched last night with a splendiferous opening ceremony.

After 108 years, the Olympic Games returned to their home country, Greece, and the games will last 17 days, allowing over 11,099 athletes to compete for 301 gold medals in 35 disciplines.

Seventy-five members of Team Taiwan -- including athletes and staff -- were to be led by flag-bearer Chen Chih-yuan (陳致遠), a professional baseball player, and were to enter the Athens Olympic Stadium 181st among the 202 delegations attending the games.

The ceremony was to begin at 2am Taiwan time, and the Athens Olympic Organization Committee was, as usual, keeping the details of the ceremony secret.

The committee said that Mihalis Hatzigiannis, a male singer who is popular in Greece, will sing the Athens Olympic theme and Yannis Kotsiras, also a famous Greek singer, will sing the Olympic theme song, while Bjork, the elfin Icelandic chanteuse, will perform at the end of the parade.

Vowing to win the country's first gold medal, Team Taiwan is placing its hope in two Taekwondo athletes -- Chu Mu-yen (朱木炎) in the men's category and Chen Shih-hsin (陳詩欣) in the female category. Team Taiwan said it expects to bring home at least six medals.

Other possible disciplines in which Team Taiwan might earn medals include archery (female), shooting (female), weightlifting (male), table tennis (male, single and double) and baseball.

The coaches of Taiwan's female softball team and Judo team also expressed confidence of making it to the finals and said they are looking forward to winning medals.

As for the baseball team, although some foreign sports commentators say that Taiwan ranks sixth among the competing teams, Team Taiwan's coach, Hsu Sheng-ming (徐生明), pledged that his team will beat its first two opponents -- the Canadian and Australian teams -- and gain at least four wins during the seven preliminary games to make it to the final qualifications.

The baseball team is scheduled to play Canada on Aug. 15 and Hsu said that Chang Chih-chia (張誌家), who plays in Japan's professional league, or Wang Jien-ming (王建民), who plays for the New York Yankee's minor league team, will be the starting pitcher, while Tsao Chin-hui (曹錦輝), who plays for the Colorado Rockies, may be closer.

"Team Japan, which is organized with the best professional players, may be the most hopeful of getting the gold medal," said senior baseball commentator Tseng Wen-cheng (曾文城). "However, their weakness may be that they are too confident."

Taiwan's best table tennis athlete, Chuang Chih-yuan (莊智淵), who ranks fifth, faces a tough challenge on the road to winning a gold medal, because he has to defeat China's Wang Hao, who ranks fourth worldwide, in the quarterfinals and Wang Liqin (王勵勤), the world's No. 1 table tennis master, at the semifinal to reach the final.

Also see stories:

South Koreans set records in archery

Iraq stuns Portugal with 4-2 victory in a qualifying match

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