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Perez, Wu win taekwondo gold; Nikpai's medal a first for Afghanistan

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Guillermo Perez of Mexico and China's Wu Jingyu won taekwondo gold medals on Wednesday at the Olympics.

Another big story also broke out of the competition as Afghanistan won its first Olympic medal when Rohullah Nikpai defeated world champion Juan Antonio Ramos of Spain, to take the bronze in the men's under 58-kilogram division.

"After more than 30 years of war in Afghanistan, I think this medal is a very great message for peace and the future of Afghanistan," said Nikpai.

Wu won the women's under 49kg category, while Perez won the men's class in a decision over Dominica's Yulis Gabriel Mercedes.

Wu beat Thailand's Buttree Puedpong by points for the gold medal. Venezuela's Dalia Contreras Rivero and Cuba's Daynellis Montejo shared the bronze medal.

"It is a breakthrough for China in this weight category because no Chinese have won a gold in this before," said Wu.

The score went to 1-0 after the first round after Puedpong was warned for inactivity Puedpong received another warning in the third round for evading the fight, bringing a full point deduction.

On her way to the gold, Wu beat Kenya's Mildred Alango, Sweden's Hanna Zajc and then Taiwan's Yang Shu-Chun in the semifinals.

Perez won his match by superiority, while Taiwan's Chu Mu-Yen, the defending Olympic champion, also won a bronze along with Nikpai.

"I've practiced the sport for 23 years," said Perez. "I missed out on Sydney (2000) because I was very young and in Athens (2004) because of injury. Now I'm 28 years old and more mature."

Perez won his final match in sudden death. Neither fighter could record a point in overtime, and four judges and a referee had to decide the winner based on who showed more initiative in the fourth round. That gave Mexico its first gold medal at the 2008 Games.

"He (Mercedes) is my friend," said Perez. "We've fought many matches against each other in Pan American events and we've known each other for a long time. We know each other' strengths and weaknesses. I thought I went the extra mile and put in the extra effort, and when the judge approached us, it crossed my mind that he would be inclined to raise the hand in my favor and it would be a great joy for my country."

08/20 11:42:21 ET


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