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'Devil coach' Zhang's 30 weeks with Chinese Taipei weightlifting
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Saying "excuse me", Zhang Jiamin lit a cigarette when talking to reporters, but turning aside every time he breathed out the smoke.

"Hope not to annoy you," he said.

It's difficult to connect the courteous man with the nickname he has got recently -- "devil coach".

The 53-year-old man from Chinese mainland has been working with Chinese Taipei weightlifting team for 30 weeks and became famous among local media for his strictness.

"Actually, it's very simple. I ask them to do morning exercises every day and no weekends," he said.

All the Chinese Taipei weightlifters are part-timers and they have to work or go to school besides weightlifting.

"So their previous training sessions are pretty loose," Zhang said, adding that the players felt hard to cooperate with him.

"He is really strict with us. I nearly couldn't bear it," said Yang Chin-yi, who will compete in the men's 56kg category at the Beijing Olympics.

However, strict training brought magic improvement to the team. One of the players even improved by some 30kg, Zhang said, without elaborating.

Peng Tai-lin, deputy chef de mission of the Chinese Taipei Olympic delegation highly praised Zhang's achievement.

"It's a pity that we invited him too late. If not, we would have the strength to compete with the Chinese delegation in weightlifting," Peng said.

"Our goal is to finish among the top eight," Zhang said.

Zhang made his fame when he coached the Thai weightlifting team eight years ago.

Due to his strict training, Thai strongwomen suddenly grew up in the international weightlifting circle and won a lot of world titles. Pawina Thongsuk won three divisions and became a legend in weightlifting history.

At the Athens Olympics, Thailand got three golds, and two were from weightlifting through Udomporn Polsak in the women's 53kg division and Pawina Thongsuk in 75kg category.

However, the death of his wife last year when he was in Thailand, made him consider it a "place of sadness".

"I couldn't work there any more," he said.

After the funeral of his wife, he accepted the invitation of the Chinese Taipei team and again left his hometown of Shenyang in northeast China's Liaoning province.

Compared with the respect he received in Thailand, it's a difficult beginning for Zhang in the Chinese Taipei weightlifting team.

However, he said he can stand everything for his beloved sport of weightlifting.

"It's the biggest reward for me when the players stand on the podium to collect medals," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2008)

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