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Strongman Zhang's Olympic Gold Priced with Family Value
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"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 onein 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 was told.

Nobody wanted to be his coach when he finished his exercises onall 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)

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