Zhang Guozheng lifted the third weightlifting gold medal for
China at the 28th Olympic Games when he won the men's 69kg category
Zhang, world record holder in the jerk, snatched 160kg and
jerked 187kg for winning total of 347.5kg.
Lee Bae Young of South Korea took the silver at 342.5 and
Crotian Nikolay Pechalov, who is competing in his fourth Olympic
Games, had the bronze in 337.5.
"My darling, I'm so thrilled to hear your voice. Eighty percent
of my pains fade off."
That was what Zhang Guozheng, Athens 2004 gold medallist in
weightlifting men's 69kg who got injured on waist and tumbled on
platform at his final clean and jerk attempt, told his wife over
phone when savoring his Olympic moment Wednesday night.
Seven years ago, Zhang Guozheng earned only a bronze at the
National Games. As an ambitious strongman, uncertain about his
prospects in a weightlifting powerhouse, Zhang was rethinking of
his sport life.
In the same year, Zhang met the girl. He described her as a one
in a thousand and married four years later.
The happy marriage worked out magic chemistry which not only
extended his sport journey but shot him higher and higher at the
power sports arena. Eventually, it was an Olympics gold.
"She is the sunshine that lightens everything up in my life,"
Zhang said of his wife Gao Wenjuan, who came from China's southeast
Fujian Province as Zhang did.
As care and encourage tempered a brave heart which was once
tinted with frustration, sadness and suspicion, in the very year he
got married, Zhang began to embrace wonders.
He brought home a National Games gold in 2001, a world champion in
Warsaw in 2002, and one more in Vancouver in 2003.
Whenever it was possible and she was available, Zhang would ask
her to watch him perform at tournament, believing she "would bring
good luck" to him. As she did it, he delivered.
"I still remember the moment she cried excitedly (at the
National Games in 2001) and was about to throw herself to my arms
following the decisive attempt," Zhang said.
She was then on the second floor in the weightlifting hall at
the National Games and nearly jumped out of railings when her
brother stopped her in time.
Zhang was enlisted in the national team in 1999 when he was 26,
an age already for retiring for most Chinese athletes.
One coach at the team told him, "train yourself on the platforms
till one of the coaches spots you," Zhang Guozheng did what as he
Nobody wanted to be his coach when he finished his exercises on
all the weightlifting platforms. "I was taken as a lightweight. I
didn't have the techniques, and more, I was too old to have a
bright prospect as a weightlifter," he said.
Finally, his hard working and potentials persuaded one coach and
he made the team.
With a higher education at the Beijing Sports University from
1994-1998, Zhang had once thought of a teaching career. But he
later went to the southwest Yunnan Province, coaching at the
provincial weightlifting team.
While in Yunnan, Zhang realized he couldn't get what he wanted
there. He then decided that he would rather discipline himself than
coach others. He sought his chance at the national team.
After finishing the fourth at the Sydney Olympics, he cast his
view on Athens 2004, strongly supported by his wife.
As the Games returned to its birthplace, Zhang's gold went home
in his heart. Though his wife not among the spectators at the
Nikaia Hall, Zhang knew she must watch his Olympic moment,
listening to his "home, sweet home" story.
(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2004)