The summer Olympic games in Beijing handed out 15 gold medals Thursday. VOA's Jim Stevenson has highlights from the day, which included several more gold medals for the host nation.
Yang Wei added another gold medal to the rapidly growing Chinese total. He won the men's individual All-Around gymnastics title. After disappointments at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, Yang was ready to quit. But he recalls what his coach told him.
"You did not win, even in your peak form. But it does not necessarily mean that you never will win it. 2008 is a good opportunity for you. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I seized the moment," said Yang.
Zhang Juanjuan of China broke South Korea's 24-year stranglehold on the women's individual archery title, claiming the gold medal with the last arrow the final. Du Li of China won the women's 50-meter rifle from three positions. Yang Xiuli topped the women's judo 73-kilo weight class.
But Chinese fencers were edged by Ukraine in the women's team saber final. Naidan Tuvshinbayar gave neighboring Mongolia its first gold medal of the Beijing Olympic Games by winning the over-100 kilo men's division. Equestrian dressage team grand prix gold went to Germany. Italy picked up a gold from women's skeet shooting. Italy, Russia and Cuba collected victories in wrestling finals.
In the pool, Liu Zige of China won the women's 200-meter butterfly final while compatriot Jiao Liuyang claimed silver. Through an interpreter, Liu says Asian swimmers have the talent to win many more major swimming events.
"I think that if we have a dream, we must persist. I do not feel that Asians are not as good as the Europeans," said Liu. "I think that you must dare to dream. Because if you dare to dream, you can attain it."
The United States had previously held every gold medal in the women's 4x200 meter freestyle race since the event was first contested in 1996. But Australia took the top honor in Beijing. China placed second while the U.S. women took bronze.
Alain Bernard of France won the men's 100-meter freestyle event.
The men's 200-meter breaststroke final went to Kosuke Kitajima of Japan, his second win in Beijing. He tells about his Olympic record time of two minutes, 7.64 seconds.
"I had in mind the fact there was a record. And I wanted to better my record. But I could not. And that is why a little bit I [was] having mixed feelings. But of course the important thing is that I win. And I was able to do that and I gave it my best. And I felt great about it," said Bernard.
American James Blake felt great too. His match was not for a medal. But Blake reached the men's tennis semifinals with his first career victory over Swiss world number-one Roger Federer.
"Really, anything can happen in these games," said Blake. "And the way I have been playing, I do not see any reason why I can not be there on the podium."
The eighth-seeded Blake eliminated the top seed, 6-4, 7-6. But the women's tournament is over for American Serena Williams, who fell to Russian Elena Dementieva, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Another notable performance came in table tennis, where the U.S. women's team defeated Nigeria, 3-0, to become the second seed in the bronze medal bracket.
Weather disrupted several outdoor events. Water is usually good for rowing, but rain pushed the competition back to Friday, which originally was a scheduled off day. A lack of wind in Qingdao delayed the Finn and Yngling sailing races by one day.
China tops the medals table with 35 total, including 21 gold, eight silver and five bronze. The United States follows with 34 overall, highlighted by 10 gold. Three nations - South Korea, Italy and Germany - have six gold medals each.