China take two early gold medals

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The Independent Online

The Olympics got under way today with two gold medals for the host country and news that a Beijing-bound sprinter tested positive for doping.

Chen Xiexia of China took gold in the women's 48-kilogram weightlifting and 2006 world champion Pang Wei won the men's 10-meter air pistol.

"I had low expectations of myself, but my coach and teammates created ideal conditions for me to win," Pang said.

Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic had the distinction of winning the first of 302 golds to be awarded before the games end on 24 August when she took the 10-meter air rifle.

The Greek national Olympic committee said 29-year-old Tassos Gousis, who competes in the 200 meters, tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone on Monday. He has been sent home from a pre-games training camp in Japan after being informed of the result.

"The first test returned positive," Greek press officer Tasos Papachristou told The Associated Press. "He's not in the team. Now he's traveling to Greece where I imagine he will ask for the 'B' sample (to be tested)."

Gousis finished eighth in the 200 at last year's world championships in Osaka, Japan. He competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics but failed to qualify for the 200 final.

The finish is at Juyongguan, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) outside Beijing.

In women's basketball, Lauren Jackson, the WNBA's most valuable player last year with the Seattle Storm, scored 18 points to lead Australia to an 83-64 win over Belarus.

There are later qualifying heats in swimming, where Michael Phelps will begin his quest for a record eight Olympic gold medals in the 400-meter individual medley. The final is Sunday morning.

Phelps is expected to be pushed by American teammate Ryan Lochte. The pair swam a memorable 400 IM final at the U.S. trials in June, when Phelps won in 4 minutes, 5.25 seconds, Lochte finished second and both went under world-record time.

"I'm just ready for it to be here," Phelps said.

Other preliminary competition began Saturday in archery, badminton, beach volleyball, boxing, men's artistic gymnastics, rowing and sailing.