Taiwanese judoka Lee Kai-lin (李凱琳) won Taiwan’s first medal at the London Paralympics on Thursday by reaching the final of the women’s under-48kg weight class.
The visually impaired Lee, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the world in her weight division, won silver after losing to Carmen Brussig of Germany in the event’s gold-medal bout.
The 35-year-old Brussig scored a waza-ari against her Taiwanese opponent, who was only able to manage a yuko.
In judo, an ippon is the highest score given for a throw or pin and it immediately ends a match. A waza-ari is the second highest score in the three-tier scoring system and it trumps a yuko, no matter how many are scored.
During their previous encounter at the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) world championships in Turkey last year, Lee defeated Brussig to win gold.
In her Paralympics debut this year, the 20-year-old Lee frustrated Solene Laclau of France to advance to the semi-finals and then moved on to the gold medal encounter by defeating 30-year-old Karla Ferreira Cardoso of Brazil by two yuko to one.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and Sports Affairs Council Minister Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡) sent congratulatory messages to Lee shortly after her success.
Lee, who suffers from congenital optic nerve atrophy and has very weak vision, took up judo when she was in second grade at school.
She said her grandfather started the family tradition of learning judo because many family members suffered from the eye disease and he thought mastering judo could be a way for them to protect themselves.
In high school, Lee’s coach refused to give her “special treatment” and made her train with other athletes who were not visually impaired.
That method toughened her and played a role in helping her win the gold medal at the IBSA judo world championships in Turkey in 2010.