Friday, September 12, 2008

Chen overcomes ankle injury to lift China over Finland in men's goalball quarters

Chen Liangliang overcame an ankle injury to score five times here on Friday at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium and lift China over Finland 7-6 in the men's goalball quarter-finals of the Beijing Paralympic Games.

"I thought we might lose when we fell behind, but our mentality was strong enough that we could finally rally past our opponent and win through," said Chen, who had received block therapy before taking to the court.

With China trailing 4-2 at the half time, Chen scored his third goal of the game soon after the game resumed to cut it to 4-3 before denying a penalty shot of Finland with a fantastic block.

Then China reeled off four goals in two minutes for a 7-4 lead. Finland scored twice in the last two minutes to pull within 7-6, but that's the furthest the Finns could go.

"Actually I am not so satisfied with my overall performance," Chen said. "Although I scored five times, I also conceded three."

Having scored 12 goals in the first two rounds of the preliminaries, Chen injured his ankle in China's third match against Canada on Tuesday before watching the rest of the round robin play on the bench.

"After two days of rest, it is hard for me to find back my touch of the ball," Chen added. "And I was affected by the ankle injury in defense."

A gold medal winner at the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled Games in 2006, Chen is dreaming of winning his first Paralympic medal on home soil.

"My ankle hurts a lot, but I will just try my best," he said. "Hopefully I can play in the semifinals tomorrow, I really want to fight with my teammates."

Earlier on Friday, the United States pulled off the major upset in the quarterfinals, beating previously unbeaten Slovenia 4-2.

"Slovenia is a great team, but we won. We have confidence in ourselves and our team," said Chris Dodds of the United States. "We can pull together and pull out the goals."

In the other quarterfinals, defending champion Sweden crashed out after losing to Denmark 4-2 in a replay of the Athens Paralympic Games final while world champion and title favorite Lithuania bounced back from Thursday's 7-6 loss against Slovenia to breeze past Canada 10-0.

China will play Lithuania in Saturday's semifinals while Sweden is to clash with the United States.

Source: Xinhua

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