Poor champsells medals

BEIJING - An impoverished Chinese marathon champion is seeking to sell her gold medals while awaiting a court ruling against her former coach who she accuses of taking her winnings, state press said yesterday.

BEIJING - An impoverished Chinese marathon champion is seeking to sell her gold medals while awaiting a court ruling against her former coach who she accuses of taking her winnings, state press said yesterday.

Ai Dongmei, 26, former winner of the Beijing and Dalian international marathons, is seeking to sell 16 race medals to ward off poverty as she awaits a verdict against banned running coach Wang Dexian, the Beijing News said.

"There is no other way out," the paper quoted Ai as saying about her plans to sell the medals. "Rent here is expensive and our family of three came to Beijing with only 200 yuan [about R985] in our pockets."

She wants about R930 for each gold medal, but according to the report, people have responded to her by post offering up to about R9300 for a medal.

Ai retired from China's railway ministry's track and field team four years ago suffering from foot injuries, ending a promising career before she had the chance to make it to the Olympics.

She has since been selling clothes in Beijing, while her husband peddles popcorn in the suburbs of the capital. The couple have a two-year-old baby.

She brought a lawsuit against Wang in September last year, seeking about R150000 in damages for injuries incurred during training and accusing him of taking her prize money, the report said.

"I was a marathon runner and I spent eight years of my life training," Ai said. "I brought glory to my country, but the money I should have earned with my sweat and tears has not been paid."

Wang was banned for life as a coach after Ai's teammate Sun Yingjie was tested positive for banned substances in 2005. - Sapa-AFP

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