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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Park wins first gold at Panathinaiko

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- South Korea's Park Sung-hyun won the first Olympic gold medal at ancient Panathinaiko Stadium on Wednesday, beating countrywoman Lee Sung-jin in the final of the women's archery competition.

At the first modern Olympics in 1896, which featured several events at Panathinaiko, the first-place finisher received a silver medal, a crown of olive branches and a diploma. The runner-up was awarded a bronze medal, a crown of laurel and a diploma. There was no recognition for third-place.

The ancient marble stadium, which was first constructed around 330 B.C., was refurbished for the 1896 games, and was gleaming in the late afternoon Wednesday, as the two Korean archers went down to the last shot to determine the individual champion.

Tied at 100 after 11 shots, Park scored a 10 with her final arrow. Lee was unable to answer, scoring an 8, to give Park the gold. Still, Lee recognized the special history of her environs.

"It is a huge privilege for me to be here,'' she said through an interpreter.

Britain's Alison Williamson defeated Taiwan's Yuan Shu Chi to win the bronze medal, becoming the first person in Panathinaiko history to receive an official Olympic accolade for placing third.

Williamson and Yuan were tied at 97 going into the final arrows. Williamson shot an 8, but Yuan faltered under pressure, scoring a 7 to give Williamson the medal.

South Korea has won six straight individual golds in women's archery and is the overwhelming favorite for Friday's team competition. Park, Lee, and Yun Mi-jin set a world team record in last Thursday's qualifying round, scoring 2,030 in the 216-arrow event. Park was the top scorer in qualifying, setting a world record of 682 points in her 72-arrow round.