NEW YORK (AP) _ Race walker Yueling Chen, the first Chinese woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field, was granted permission Thursday to compete for the United States at the Sydney Games.

The clearance by Chinese Olympic officials, at the request of the U.S. Olympic Committee, reversed China's initial refusal to waive the rules and allow Chen to race in Sydney for her new country.

Chen, the gold medalist in the 10-kilometer walk at the 1992 Olympics, became an American citizen April 12. Last month, she finished second in the 20K walk at the U.S. Olympic trials in Sacramento, Calif., conditionally qualifying her for the games in September.

However, an athlete who has competed in the Olympics for one country usually must wait three years to compete for another country after gaining new citizenship.

China, in a rare stance in recent international sports, refused the initial request to waive the three-year rule in Chen's case, and the USOC said earlier this month that it looked as if Chen would not be allowed to race in the Olympics this year.

But on Wednesday, USOC president William Hybl faxed another request to Chinese Olympic Committee president Yuan Weimin for a waiver.