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Oarsome first chapter in Paralympic history

Countries with strong rowing traditions as well as newcomers wrote the first chapter in the Paralympic adaptive rowing history Thursday when Britain, Italy and China won the sport`s first gold medals at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park.

Helene Raynsford of Great Britain celebrates her gold medal in the women`s single sculls at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park September 11, 2008.

Briton Helene Raynsford became the first gold medalist in adaptive rowing, cruising over the 1,000m course in 6 min 12.93 sec to win the women`s single sculls.

The only pity was that headwinds Thursday prevented the 28-year-old from breaking the world record she set in the heats.

"I`ve always been proud to be training with the best rowing team in the world," said Raynsford after her historic regatta.

Liudmila Vauchok from Belarus and Laura Schwanger from the US won the silver and bronze medals.

Another British rower and world record holder, Tom Aggar, took gold in the men`s single sculls, while Israel`s Oleksandr Petrenko and Eli Nawi won silver and bronze.

Zhou Yangjing and Shan Zilong from China continued the strong performances of Chinese rowers throughout the year by taking the mixed double sculls.

Theirs was also the host`s first Paralympic gold medal in rowing.

John Maclean and Kathryn Ross from Australia and Brazil`s Elton Santana and Josiane Lima won silver and bronze.

Italian crews won the mixed coxed four titles after dominating the heats, with American and British crews finishing well back.

Eight countries have won medals in adaptive rowing.

Altogether, 108 rowers from 23 nations and regions competed in four events since Tuesday in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Shunyi, 30km northeast of downtown Beijing.

Date:2008-9-12 14:03:00     
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