Although a revenge boycott led by the Soviet Union depleted the field in certain sports, a record 140 nations took part. Joan Benoit won the inaugural women's marathon and Connie Carpenter-Phinney the first women's cycling road race. Carl Lewis won both sprints and the long jump and earned a fourth gold in the 4x100m relay. Pertti Karpinnen won single sculls rowing for the third time. Sebastian Coe became the first repeat winner of the men's 1,500m. Archer Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic athlete to take part in a medal event. She competed in a wheelchair.
With the restoration of Chinese Olympic Committee's lawful seat in the IOC and of the Chinese Sports Delegation's right to participate in the Olympics, Chinese athletes were sent to Los Angeles in 1984 for the 23rd Olympic Games. It was here that, back in 1932, China had been represented on such a meeting for the first time in history -- by a single athlete, who ran out of contention and had to return home midway. Now, after a lapse of half a century, a whole delegation was dispatched to this American city in the name of the Chinese People's Republic.
The LA Olympic Games were held on an unprecedented scale, with the participation of 7,616 athletes (including 1,719 women) from 140 countries and areas. Among the high-level competitors were former Olympic champions and world record holders. The Chinese sports delegation consisted of 250 athletes, none of whom had taken part in Olympics before. As China's first full participation in Olympic Summer Games and the first important step taken by China in the sports world, the delegation aroused worldwide attention and was commented to "have brought fresh air to the Olympics." Furthermore, in sharp contrast to the old days, the first gold medal of the LA Olympics was won by a Chinese athlete named Xu Haifeng in the men's free pistol event, with the prize awarded him by IOC President Samaranch himself. As the first Olympic gold ever collected by a Chinese in the Olympic history, it was called "a break through zero" -- an event that brought great joy to the whole Chinese nation. It was followed by more gold medals won by Chinese athletes, including three by gymnast Li Ning, one by the women's volleyball team and one by fencer Luan Jujie, known as "Asia's first Fleurette." All in all, China earned 15 gold, eight silver and nine bronze medals and placed fourth in medal standing, as a testimony to its athletic ability.
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