Tue, Sep 07, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen honors taekwondo athletes

BRILLIANT STARS The athletes who broke the nation's Olympic gold drought were honored with medals and a large dose of nationalist rhetoric

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen Shih-hsin, left, and Chu Mu-yen, right, pose with President Chen Shui-bian at the Presidential Office in Taipei after receiving the Order of the Brilliant Star for winning gold in taekwondo at the Athens Olympics.


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday decorated Taiwan's Olympic taekwondo gold medalists for their performances in Athens.

In his speech congratulating athletes Chen Shih-hsin (陳詩欣) and Chu Mu-yen (朱木炎), the president used the terms "Taiwan" and "Team Taiwan" on several occasions in an apparent attempt to counter the term "Chinese Taipei" used by local media organizations during the Olympics.

Chen Shih-hsin won gold in the 49kg division of women's taekwondo, while Chu won gold in the men's 58kg division. The two gold medals were the nation's first at the Olympic Games.

"The excellent performances of the taekwondo competitors in Team Taiwan ... have accomplished Taiwan's dream of winning Olympic gold," Chen said after conferring the two athletes with the Order of the Brilliant Star, Fifth Class.

It marked the first time that athletes have received the Order of the Brilliant Star.

Recalling the athletes' medal presentation ceremonies, Chen told the athletes that at that moment "every one of Taiwan's 23 million people, regardless of ethnic origin or age, felt pride at your achievement ... many were terribly emotional when you declared to the international press that you came from Taiwan."

Calling Chen Shih-hsin and Chu "heroes of the Taiwanese people," the president commended their success and said they helped enhance Taiwan's status and visibility.

"We'll work to pool resources in the public and private sectors to overcome difficulties and allow the world to recognize Taiwan's existence as a sovereign state," Chen said, adding that the medals were "only the beginning of Taiwan's quest for world recognition."

He also expressed the hope that Taiwan's Paralympic Games squad would perform well.

Chen Shui-bian's wife, Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), will lead the team to the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.

Wu was paralyzed after an act of political violence in 1985.

Referring to a prediction by National Council of Physical Fitness and Sports Chairman Chen Chuan-show (陳全壽) that Taiwan could take five gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, Chen Shui-bian said he hoped that the nation's gold tally could be raised to "lucky seven."

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