Tue, Aug 24, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Chile, China make tennis history with first medals

DPA AND REUTERS , ATHENS

Ting Li, right, and partner Sun Tian-Tian from China yesterday show their gold medals after defeating Conchita Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain in the Women's Doubles Tennis final at the Olympic Tennis Center in Athens.

PHOTO: EPA

Nicholas Massu collected a second gold medal for Chile in tennis at the Olympics on Sunday when he followed up Saturday's men's double victory by beating American Mardy Fish in the singles.

After joining Fernando Gonzalez to earn Chile's first Olympic title in the early hours of Sunday morning, he dug deep to give his country another.

Visibly tired Massu, who currently ranks 10th, took the first 6-3, as unseeded American Fish made a string of errors.

Fish took the nest two sets 3-6, 2-6 but Massu hit back 6-3, 6-4 to win.

The Chilean was clearly fatigued after his marathon fifth-set doubles win over Germany's Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler.

"These have been the best two days in my life. This is the best moment in my sport career. Now I can die happy," he said.

The surprise gold sent Chile into raptures.

What would have been a quiet Sunday afternoon in the capital, Santiago, turned into a parade of honking cars with screaming fans waving Chilean flags, celebrating the latest success.

The main avenue through the capital was crammed with ecstatic, jubilant crowds.

China picked up its first Olympic tennis gold when Li Ting and Sun Tian-Tian rolled over Spain's Conchita Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-3 6-3.

The Chinese pair were ecstatic, taking off on a run round the arena with tears in their eyes and a Chinese flag draped round their shoulders.

"It is unbelievable and a great honor to have the first [tennis] gold medal at the Olympics," Li said.

The Chinese pair coasted to a 6-3, 6-3 victory in the face of a substandard performance by their opponents.

China hailed its surprise Olympic tennis gold medal as a fairy tale come true.

"They were like angels bringing their luck down from heaven. There is no praise to properly describe these two," gushed the official Xinhua news agency.

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