SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For the Republic of China, the climb back into international sports competition has been measured in small steps and a lot of patience, for which the Chinese are world famous.
With all the old barriers, political and otherwise, swept aside since the resumption of relations with the United States, it seems China is ready now to take its place in international sports.
Tuesday night, China took a big jump forward when its badminton team in World Games I won four gold medals. Badminton was the only sport China participated in, compared to 15 for the host United States, which is a world sports power, but its victories Tuesday night were warmly received by an appreciative crowd of more than 1,500 in a small sports pavilion on the University of Santa Clara campus.
Like China, the World Games are off to a humble start, so the crowd for the badminton finals was regarded as a good one. While badminton is widly played in the United States, Americans have no really standout players.
The World Games marked the first summer international multi-sport competition -- 58 countries are here for the 11-day carnival featuring 16 non-Olympic sports -- for China since the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany. The Chinese sent a small contingent to the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid.
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China's new sports heroes are people named Chang Ailing, who won the women's singles title by beating Sun-Ae Hwang of Korea, 7-11, 11-9, 12-9; Sun Zhian and Yao Ximing, who beat Thomas Kihlstrom and Stefan Karlsson, 12-15, 15-4, 15-6, in men's doubles, Chang Ailing and Liu Xia, who defeated Nora Perry and Jane Webster, 11-15, 15-4, 15-8, in women's doubles, and Chan Chengie, who beat Frost Hansen of Denmark, 9-15, 15-7, 15-12, in men's singles.
The mixed doubles title went to the team of Kihlstron and Gillian Gilks of Britain, who beat Britain's Mike Tredgett and Nora Perry.
China's dominance in badminton capped the busiest night of the Games, which run through Sunday. The Chinese have not competed in major world events but are known to be a powerhouse in the sport of badminton, having won several 'friendly' international matches.
In baseball, the United States and Korea scored impressive victories, while in roller hockey, the winners were the United States and Italy with Argentina and Portugal, the pre-Games favorites, playing to a 3-3 tie.
Freshman righthander Todd Lamb pitched a six-hitter and Burk Goldthorn of Texas and Don Jones of Lewis and Clark each batted in two runs to lead the U.S. to a 9-1 victory over Panama, while Korea rolled over Australia, 10-0, as righthander Dong-Won Choi struck out 15 batters in an amazing seven-inning stint.
Choi gave up a leadoff single to Allen Wignall, then didn't allow a hit through seven innings. Csi-Jin Kim finished up by striking out two more batters. There are only four teams in the competition, and as might be expectd, the U.S. is favored to win the gold medal.
In roller hockey, which for the second straight night attracted a full house of 1,000, the United States whipped Chile, 7-0, as Pat Ferguson scored a hat trick; Guiseppe Marzella scored four goals in leading Italy past Brazil, 6-4, and Portugal battled from behind twice on Pereira Christiano's second goal to tie Argentina.
Thus, after two rounds, the United States is in front with a 2-0 record while Argentina and Portugal are 1-0-1 each and Italy is 1-1. Brazil and Chile are 0-2. Today, Italy plays Argentina, Portugal faces Chile and the United States takes on Brazil.
Australia meets the United States and Korea plays Panama in baseball while casting, trampoline and taekwondo make their Games debut.