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Judo athlete snatches Taiwan's first medal at Paralympics

2012/08/31 16:39:01

London, Aug. 30 (CNA) Taiwanese judo athlete Lee Kai-lin won Taiwan's first medal at the London Paralympics Thursday by reaching the final of the women's under-48 kilogram 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 immediately ends a match. A waza-ari is the second highest score in the three-tier scoring system, and trumps yukos, no matter how many are scored.

During their previous encounter at the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Championships and Games 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 semifinals and then moved on to the gold medal encounter by defeating 30-year-old Karla Ferreira Cardoso of Brazil two yukos to one.

President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Wu Den-yih, Premier Sean Chen and Sports Minister Tai Hsia-ling 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 the second grade.

Lee 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 are not visually impaired.

That method toughened her and played a role in helping her secure the gold medal at the IBSA Judo World Championships in Turkey in 2010.

(By Jennifer Huang, Lung Po-an and Jamie Wang)