Tue, Nov 23, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Yang Shu-chun receives hero’s welcome

SHOW OF SUPPORT:Several other Asian Games athletes arrived back home with Yang, including some medal winners, but the focus of the media and the crowd was on her

By Shelley Shan, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Flora Wang  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Taiwanese taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun, center, waves to fans as she receives a warm welcome at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday evening upon her return from China.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

Taekwondo sensation Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君), who was controversially disqualified last week at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, received a hero’s welcome yesterday at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, where she was greeted by Vice Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and hundreds of supporters.

About half an hour before Yang’s 6:55pm arrival, about 200 students from Taoyuan Kainan University arrived at the airport’s Second Terminal to show their support.

Waving national flags, they shouted: “Go, Shu-chun!” and “ROC, you are great.” Some also brought white lilies to give to Yang. They were soon joined by more supporters and arriving passengers who decided to wait to see Yang.

Russian Mike Kuristsyn, a transportation senior at the university, said that reading the news about Yang as well as the game made him feel “uncomfortable.”

“It was not fair to Yang, and it was unfair to Taiwan,” said Kuristsyn, who practices judo. “Taiwan should be treated as a real country.”

Sean Hsieh (謝上衡), a graduate student at National Chung Hsing University, who used Facebook to support Yang, presented her with a “Gold Medal of Justice.”

“I was angry about the incident,” Hsieh said. “Yang has the ability to win the gold medal. They were doing this to her because they were afraid to compete against her.”

“We went to a store that makes trophies and medals for athletes,” Hsieh said. “We told the owner that this was for Yang Shu-chun. The owner dropped what he was doing and finished making the gold medal in four hours. They only charged us NT$100. It’s not real gold, but it shows what’s in our heart.”

Sixty-three-year-old retiree Lu Kai-hsing (鹿凱星) and his wife came from Hsinchu to support Yang.

“Our children cannot concede like that,” Lu said.

To encourage Yang, the couple also printed a copy of Psalms 27:1 on a laminated paper and gave it to her upon her arrival.

A civil servant surnamed Lee (李) came with a group of nine graduate school classmates National Taipei University of Education. He said the anti-South Korean sentiment was inevitable, given that that Taiwanese were unfairly treated at an international competition.

“I hope the incident will not affect innocent people,” Lee said. “And we can turn the energy into a power that supports her.”

Yang’s former boyfriend Chu Mu-yen (朱木炎), who won a gold medal in taekwondo at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, showed up with students from National Taiwan Sports University.

“She has the potential [to win gold],” he said. “I hope she still has the chance to compete [in the 2012 Olympics].

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chih-hsiung (黃志雄), who won the silver medal in taekwondo in the 2004 Olympics, said he hoped Yang’s disqualification would be handled strictly as a sports affair.

“We want justice, not a reputation of disqualification,” Huang said. “Any political spin on will only cause us to lose the chance to prove that we are innocent.”

While there were other Asian Games athletes on the same flight — some with gold medals — Yang was the focus of media attention.

“Thank you all, sincere thanks,” a visibly moved Yang said.

Yang and her delegation were taken from the airport straight to the Executive Yuan to meet Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義).

“I was really touched by the support from the people and the government. [At the airport] there were some people coming from Tibet. Another person gave me a golden medal they had made, calling it a ‘justice golden medal,’” Yang said.

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