Mon, Aug 23, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Taekwondo team final chance for Athens gold

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN ATHENS

Taiwan's baseball team defeated the Netherlands yesterday with a score of 5-1 during its last match of the 2004 Athens Olympic Baseball preliminary round, ending its tournament with three wins and four losses to rank fifth among the eight teams.

"We failed to meet our countrymen's expectations," said head coach Hsu Sheng-min (徐生明). "The goal [of entering the semifinals] was actually not difficult, but we failed due to our defeat by Italy."

"The process of organizing the national team was filled with difficulties during the past two years. There are too many restrictions put on our best pitchers, who play now in the US professional league, and all members of the national team finally gathered on Aug. 13, only two days before our first match, which obviously affected our performance since the entire team did not have enough time for integration," he said.

Taiwan's two top pitchers, Wang Chieh-ming (王建民), who plays for the New York Yankees, was asked to pitch for only two games, throwing around 100 balls each game, while Tsao Chin-hui (曹錦輝), who plays for the Colorado Rockies, was allowed to pitch during only three games, and threw less than 90 balls per game.

Despite the team's failure to make it to the semifinals, hundreds of baseball fans from Taiwan displayed their extraordinary passion in Athens by cheering the team on, yelling and waving national flags at the Olympic Baseball Field.

"Certainly, we are satisfied with the results," said Yu Hsieu-chih (游學志), one of the team's supporters. "We all know that the athletes have done their best."

"We are here to shout out the name of Taiwan for the honor of the nation, and give our support to the team without any complaint," Yu, who is one of Taiwan's most prominent ocarina -- or globular flute -- virtuosos, said after the match.

On behalf of the more than 200 Taiwanese who traveled to Athens to cheer on the country's athletes, Yu urged the government to allocate more resources for the national team in future competitions.

Team Taiwan hit its first run in the second inning, after Chen Yung-chi (陳鏞基) hit a double and then ran home when the next batter, Yeh Chun-chang (葉君璋), hit a single.

At the top of the fourth inning, the fourth batter in the line-up, Chen Chin-feng (陳金鋒), clocked a single and advanced to third base when the following batter, Hsieh Chia-shian's (謝佳賢), smashed a double. The sixth batter, Chang Tai-shan (張泰山), was ground-out, but his sacrifice allowed Chen Chin-feng to earn the team's second run.

The Netherlands' starter, right-handed Patrick de Lange, allowed Taiwan its third run at the top of sixth inning by giving up two hits and one walk.

Taiwan scored its fourth and fifth runs in the seventh inning through a sacrifice bunt, which combined with three errors from the Netherlands left the score at 5-1.

Taiwan's last hope to earn its first Olympic gold medal is now in the hands of four Taekwondo athletes, while other members of the Taiwan Olympic delegation have completed their participation in a total of 13 disciplines yesterday.

The nation has thus far earned two medals -- one silver and one bronze -- which were both won in archery.

International sports commentators, as well as Taiwanese media, have speculated that the Taekwondo team, including two male athletes, Huang Chih-hsiung (黃志雄) and Chu Mu-yen (朱木炎), and two female athletes, Chen Shih-hsin (陳詩欣) and Chi Shu-ju (紀淑如), will earn Taiwan its first gold medal in 44 years.

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