Thursday, September 11, 2008

British swimmers win first relay at Beijing Paralympics

The aquatic centre Water Cube produced 12 golds here on Wednesday when Britain's swimmers won the first relay event with a new world record at the Beijing Paralympics.

The fourth day competitions have all eyes on the men's 4X100m freestyle realys. The British quartet, who cruised fastest to the final, took the winning time further down to 3 minutes 51.43 seconds, shaving a shocking 6.85 seconds of the former world mark set in 2006.

Australia grabbed the silver with 2.16 seconds adrift and China took the bronze with a further 0.33 seconds.

The hosts should have go further with a powerful starting spurt. The first leg racer Xiong Xiaoming's second fastest 57.28 among eight lanes gave China a dream start, bettering the British by more than four seconds.

But Xiong's successors Wei Yanpeng and ace swimmer Wang Xiaofu failed to beat the British and Australian counterparts, giving their opponents chance to narrow the gap.

The British final leg Robert Welbourn swam a fatest 53.52 with a strong splash to consolidate the leading place after the turn.

And China had to accept their second bronze of the day after He Junquan failed to grab the gold in his favorite 50m butterfly S5.

"We expected to swim faster. Swimming in Lane 8 has some influence on our performance. But the relay shows strength of the whole swimming team. Everyone in this group has tried their best. But it's not individual can decide a group event," the first leg Xiong analyzed the failure.

Though losing the gold, China's swimmers didn't lose confidence.

"We are improving, so are other countries. The Chinese team has made great progress compared with it in Athens.

"Although we haven't got many gold medals in this Paralympic Games, there are a lot of coming events worth expecting," said Wei after the clash.

China's leader Wang also showed his belief. "It's only a start of the Paralympics. There is still a long way to go. I am confident with the following events. I'm sure we'll get more golds."

Besides the highlight, the Water Cube witnessed 14 world records tumble on Wednesday.

Among them, Kevin Paul of South Africa, Katrina Porter of Australia, Lantz Lamback of the United States, Konstantin Lisenkov of Russia and Heather Frederiksen of Britain all shattered the world records twice.

After four days of competition, the United States led the swimming tally with 11 golds, followed by Britain and Russia both with six. Host China stood 10th with two.

The Beijing Paralympic swimming competition has attracted 560 athletes to its 81 men's and 59 women's events. The nine-day contest runs from September 7 to 15.

Source: Xinhua

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