There were few surprises in front of a noisy, joyous home crowd at the Wutaishan Stadium, as China took the women’s football gold medal in what has proved to be a highly successful tournament.
The Chinese, by far the strongest of the six entrants, overwhelmed a Venezuela team that had impressed up to this stage.
Wan Wenting put China 1-0 up with a great header after 10 minutes, Xie Qiwen added a second eight minutes later, and on 34 minutes, a sublime chip from Ma Xiaolan made it 3-0.
The classy partnership of Wang Yanwen and Fang Jie ran the midfield, and in the second half Zhang Jiayun and Wu Xi added further goals to complete a 5-0 victory.
“This is a great achievement that we have worked incredibly hard for, and in the end it was easy,” said China’s goalkeeper Xu Huan. “I’m extremely proud. It’s a big achievement and we put blood and sweat into our win.”
In the bronze medal match, Mexico beat Slovakia 3-1. The unfortunate Andrea Herbrikova (SVK) bundled the ball into her own net to give Mexico the lead, which Montserrat Hernandez (MEX) doubled with a cracking volley.
Another own goal, this time from Diana Anguiano (MEX) brought the Europeans back into it, but Daniela Garcia (MEX) netted on 79 minutes to put the match out of reach.
The Mexico team are all smiles after being presented with their bronze medals
“This is the best moment of my life,” said Maria Maldonado (MEX) afterwards. “None of us have won a medal in anything before. Getting onto the podium is unbelievable.”
Namibia, who had previously endured 9-0 and 10-0 defeats, showed that they had improved during the course of the tournament, finishing their campaign with a narrow 3-2 defeat to Papua New Guinea in the 5th-6th place play-off.
Their spirits, however, remained undimmed. “We have learned a lot,” said Namibian chef de mission Monica Bohm. “We were a little unlucky to get drawn in a group with two experienced sides, China and Mexico.
“China have been training together every day for four years. We are a development team, many of the girls have never left Namibia before. We lack funding. This tournament was the first competitive game the girls have played together.
“There is talent, but being here was a huge eye-opener for our national association and government. We need to put more money into sport. But although we lost, we have mingled well and learned all about the concept of an Olympics. Sport is only part of the package.”