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Samdal Wins Paralympic Sledge Gold

March 7, 1998

NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ Anne-Mette Samdal of Norway shattered a world Paralympic record and won two gold medals in women’s ice sledge racing today at the Winter Paralympic Games.

Samdal, a 26-year-old bank employee, clocked a world record time of 15.69 seconds in the 100-meter event for athletes with fair-to-good sitting balance at the M-Wave indoor track.

Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida won the silver in 16.74 and Kyoko Okuyama took the bronze with 17.92.

Samdal won the gold again in the 500 meters with a Paralympic record time of 1:17.26. Tsuchida and Okuyama also won silver and bronze respectively.

In sledge racing, the athlete is strapped to a sledge and circles the rink using poles.

Japan’s Yutaka Takeda tied the paralympic record of 14.83 to take the men’s gold medal in the 100 meters for athletes with no sitting balance.

Akio Okuhara, another Japanese, was second with a time of 15.50 and Norway’s Uno Frantzen took the bronze.

Takeda also won in the 500-meter race with the best time of 1:10.70. Frantzen took the silver and Okuhara the bronze.

The M-Wave was the venue for speed-skating at the recently concluded Nagano Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, Paralympic organizers disqualified five U.S. skiers from competing in the men’s downhill for athletes with one leg because the United States entered too many skiers in the event.

Paralympic rules allow only three skiers in each disability class. The U.S. team says it will appeal the ruling.

``We are very disappointed for the athletes, but apparently it is an administrative error and we will endeavor to get the other countries involved to agree to allow these athletes to participate,″ said Charles Foster, who heads the U.S. delegation.

The U.S. skiers were only disqualified from the downhill and will be allowed to compete in the slalom, giant slalom and super giant slalom races.

The men’s downhill scheduled for today was postponed because of bad weather. Heavy snow, fog and rain also plagued the Nagano Olympics and pushed back many outdoor events.

Host Japan now stands third in the medals standings behind Norway and Germany. Japan has won 18 medals, the most overall, but Norway and Germany have six golds each, compared to Japan’s five.

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