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OLYMPICS: Taiwan's taekwondo team arrives in London

2012/08/03 19:57:53

London, Aug. 2 (CNA) Taiwan's Olympic taekwondo team arrived in London Thursday and received an enthusiastic welcome from a group of Taiwanese expatriates in Britain, most of whom were students mobilized via Facebook.

The Taiwanese expats waved the Republic of China's national flag and chanted slogans to greet the group, consisting of three athletes and their coaches.

The boisterous reception attracted the attention of Heathrow Airport staff and other arriving passengers, many of whom took pictures of the scene with their smartphones.

Among the well-wishers was Transition, a British three-member indie band that had spent the past few years touring Asia while based in Taiwan.

The musicians, now based in Bristol, performed their Mandarin song "Qian Jin Olympic Dream (Go for the Olympic Dream)" to greet the delegation.

The band also prepared an Olympic gold medal replica and had it worn by Yang Shu-chun, an Asian Taekwondo Championships gold medalist who may be Taiwan's best hope for gold at the London Olympic Games.

The taekwondo team has been considered Taiwan's best bet to win medals at the London Games, and Yang is the best-known athlete in the group and the one carrying the highest expectations.

But she said upon her arrival that she felt some of the pressure was removed after compatriot Hsu Shu-ching took silver in the women's 53kg weightlifting event, Taiwan's only medal so far at the Olympic Games.

Competing in the women's under 49kg weight class, Yang will be in action on Aug. 8, as will teammate Wei Chen-yang, who will be battling in the men's under 58kg event.

The third member of the team, Tseng Li-cheng, will vie for a medal in the women's under 57kg weight class on Aug. 9.

According to Yang's coach Liu Tsung-ta, all three athletes adjusted their training schedules two weeks before leaving for London to avoid jet lag.

"As London is seven hours behind Taipei, the athletes training times were shifted to 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. instead of the previous morning and afternoon sessions," explained Liu, who believes the three athletes are in peak physical condition.

A well-wisher at the airport, who identified herself as Ms. Wu, wore a T-shirt with a hand-drawn ROC national flag on it, as did her British husband.

Wu said her husband spent about an hour drawing and painting the ROC flag on the two shirts.

"They are the only two T-shirts of their kind in the world," Wu said proudly.

Taiwan's deputy representative to the U.K., Hsu Fen-chuan, and some staff members at the country's representative office in London, also turned up at the airport to greet the taekwondo delegation.

(By Jennifer Huang, Lung Po-an and Sofia Wu)