China's Li Zhuo, a 2002 Asian Games champion, debuts on Olympic
arena in Athens Saturday to make her quest for the first gold in
the power sport at the Games.
Shrugging off a huge pressure built up at the opening of
weightlifting competition, Li had said she was strongly motivated
to claim the coveted gold in the women's 48kg discipline, in
whichshe is the current snatch and jerk world records holder.
She expects a tough competition from Aree Wiratthaworn of
Thailand, a silver medalist for the total in the category at last
year's World championships in Vancouver.
Vancouver Championships title holder in the division, Wang
Mingjuan, failed to make the Chinese strongwomen's Olympics team
due to injuries.
Other competitive opponents of Li Zhuo include Izabela
Dragnevaof Bulgaria and Tara Cunningham of the United States.
Bulgaria's triumph in the 48kg class at the Sydney Olympics
lasted only a few days, as the then 29-year-old Dragneva was
stripped of her gold medal after failing a drug test.
Following a two-year ban, Dragneva returned to competition in
2002. In April, 2004, she claimed the European champion title in
In Athens, Dragneva again faces Cunningham, who won the gold
medal in Sydney, then named Tara Nott, after Dragneva's
Among the 15 women lifters competing in this event, only
Dragneva and Cunningham have Olympic experience.
Turkish young star, Nurcan Taylan, is determined to make her
mark in this bodyweight class after dominating the 53kg category by
winning six gold medals at the last two European Championships.
Chinese strongwomen had a clean sweep of four gold medals from
as many categories they took part in at the Sydney Olympic Games
four years ago. With an expectation of at least three golds from
Athens, Chinese weightlifting team is in high spirit for a
rivalryon the platform.
China sent four women lifters, including Chen Yanqing in 58kg,
Liu Chunhong in 69kg and Tang Gonghong in over-75kg to challenge
the limit of their lifting power in Athens.
"The principle of the training and trial is to vie with their
own limit," said Chinese strongwomen's team head coach Li
Shunzhu."They don't have to worry about the competitions or their
rivals. They ought to attempt to lift the bar beyond their own
The Athens Olympic weightlifting tournament, which produces 15
gold medals including eight from men's divisions, runs through
tencompetition days from August 14 to 25, with rest days on August
The total number of participants in the Athens Olympics
weightlifting is 260, of which 170 are men and 90 women.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2004)