Olympic medal winners to parade through Taipei streets

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

Taiwan’s nine Olympic medalists will be taking a victory lap around the city of Taipei tomorrow to celebrate their record-breaking performances. The nine athletes will be whisked away from the CKS International Airport upon arrival to downtown Taipei to start the celebrations at 2:00 in the afternoon. Starting from Songshan High School on Keelung Road, three jeeps will take the medalists behind the Taipei City Hall, past the Taipei 101 skyscraper and around to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. From there, the procession will go down Chung-hsiao E. Road, snake past the 228 Peace Park and then loop back to the Hsimenting district. The parade, which is expected to last just a little over an hour, is sure to stir up memories of Taiwan’s past athletic triumphs. In 1960 there was Yang Chuan-kuang winning a silver in the decathlon in Rome. 1968 saw Chi Cheng walk away with the bronze in the 80-meter hurdles in Mexico. Then there was the silver in baseball in the 1992 Olympics, as well as the victories in Williamsburg in the Little League World Series in the 1960s.

This time, though, Taiwanese athletes are returning with something that has eluded the nation for 72 years — the gold. In all, Taiwan took home two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze, it best performance in the Olympics to date. That was enough to rank Taiwan 31st out of a total of 202 countries. Taiwan’s women’s archers, Yuan Chu-chi, Wu Lan-ju, and Chen Li-ju, started things off by taking the bronze. The men’s archery team of Wang Cheng-pang, Liu Ming-huang, and Chen Shi-yuan one-upped them by claiming the silver. In the process, Chen set an Olympic record by racking up 339 points with 36 shots. Things climaxed for the Taiwan team when 26-year old Chen Shih-hsin claimed the country’s first ever medal in the taekwondo women’s under 49-kg taekwondo division. Chen is now set to be the subject of a movie to be filmed and produced in Hong Kong that will detail her transformation from teenage run-away to betelnut beauty to Olympic gold medalist. Minutes later, Chu Mu-yen took another gold in taekwondo in the under 58-kg division. Their accomplishments saw the 2004 Athens Olympic Games organizing committee declare Aug. 25 as “Chinese Taipei Day.” Huang Chih-hsiung won a silver in the men’s under 68-kg division after intentionally bulking up to allow his teammate Chu represent Taiwan in the lighter weight category.