Huynh wins Canada's first gold

Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:11am EDT
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By Doug Hamilton

BEIJING (Reuters) - Carol Huynh, whose parents fled communist Vietnam in the 1970s, won Canada's first gold of the Olympics on Saturday in the women's 48 kg freestyle wrestling.

Huynh, 27, defeated Japanese two-times world champion Chiharu Icho, who took the silver in wrestling's lightest weight class. The score was 3-1.

Her parents were Chinese and settled in British Columbia, where she was born, after fleeing Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, said Huynh.

"It's very special to them to be here and see such an accomplishment and to see me reach my dream. And right in front of their eyes," said Huynh.

"I was the first in the family to be born in Canada. My parents are both very hard-working."

Icho made no excuses for her loss to the Canadian. "She was stronger physically and technically. Stronger in all respects," said the 26-year-old Japanese competitor.

Irini Merleni of Ukraine and Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan won bronze medals.

"Winning the bronze this time was even harder than winning the gold (at the Athens Olympics in 2004), even though I have been three-times world champion," said Merleni.

Canada's Tonya Vebeek later won bronze in the 55 kg category to give the country two medals from women's wrestling.

(Editing by Ralph Gowling)

<p>Carol Huynh of Canada sheds tears of joy after winning the gold medal in the 48kg women's freestyle wrestling at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 16, 2008. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>