Chinese discus thrower Wu Qing finally collects the right medal after scoring blunder


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The Independent Online

At 1.09pm this afternoon Chinese discus thrower Wu Qing stepped up onto the podium in the Olympic stadium to receive a gold medal.

Qing could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu. After all she had already received a medal on Friday for the F34/35 discus. The only problem was it was the wrong colour.

Thanks to a glitch in the computers that calculate the results when athletes of different levels of ability compete in the same event, the scoreboard on Friday had been showing the wrong scores. And when the final results were read out her Ukrainian rival Mariia Pomazan had won gold with Wu taking silver.

When the mistake was finally realised the results had to be recalculated and Pomazan suffered the indignity of seeing her gold downgraded to a silver. But Paralympic officials took the unprecedented decision today to allow her to keep her gold.

In a bizarre twist that highlights the complex point systems which govern many Paralympic events, a second medal ceremony was held this afternoon with the gold going to Wu, silver going to Pomazan and the bronze going to Australian thrower Katherine Proudfoot, who thought she had come in fifth place.

Another Chinese thrower, Bao Jiongyu, had her bronze changed to fifth place but she does at least get to keep her gong. That means that both Wu and Pomazan each have a silver and gold medal from one event but only the corrected results will count in the medal table.

Paralympic officials explained that they decided to allow the athletes to keep the wrong in the interests of fair play. Throughout the afternoon they had been playing to the results that were diplayed on the scoreboard and officials felt it would be unfair to penalise them for an error that was not their fault.

“It's the first time to my knowledge [this has happened],” said the International Paralympic Committee's spokesman Craig Spence. “And hopefully the last.”

Locog say the error in calculating the scores was down to equipment run by Omega, the official time keepers for the games. The F34/35 discus event contains athletes who have different levels of impairments. Rather than calculate the scores on length of throw alone, the results are adjusted using a mathematical equation to reflect the fact that the competitor with the more serious impairment is at a disadvantage.