On Saturday, Chinese figure skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won the gold medal in the pairs event, four years after finishing a disappointing second in the same event at the previous Olympics.
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With an almost faultless performance, they finished off two scandal-filled and tearful weeks for their sport and gave an exclamation point to China’s best-ever medal haul from a Winter Games by taking home the gold.
Both Sui and Han had experienced the agony of Olympic heartbreak due to a narrow margin of defeat. Finally, on Saturday, they got to feel what it’s like to be part of a winning team.
They won gold by an extremely slim margin of 63-hundredths of a point, the same margin by which they won silver four years previously. After seeing their final score against Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia shown on the board at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium, Sui and Han burst into tears of elation.
They were gone in a flash, swallowed up by a jubilant mob of team officials and coaches, one of them was waving a huge Chinese flag. Sui proclaimed, “I feel like my dream has come true; I’m very thrilled.”
Sui and Han scored a combined 239.88 points to win the short programme on Friday and the free skate on Saturday, just edging out Russia’s Tarasova and Morozov (239.25 points). Only two points separated third place and the incumbent world champions from Russia, Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov.
It was China’s greatest dream that Sui and Han would win the pairs event in the Beijing Olympics, thus their triumph was especially sweet. For the first time in 60 years, the pairs skating competition ended the Winter Olympics instead of a more popular event like women’s singles skating.
After taking the lead minutes earlier, Tarasova and Morozov were passed by Sui and Han after they skated an emotional free programme to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The Chinese couple, though, had momentum on their side, having previously broken the world mark for points in the short programme on Friday and then returning on Saturday to break the record for overall score. And they had done it when an entire country was watching.