The Olympic weightlifting competition will start on Saturday in the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics Gymnasium with the women's 48kg class, which China has ruled for years.
According to the schedule, it will probably produce the first gold for China if host shooters failed to claim the Olympics' first event - the women's 10m air rifle.
Chinese strongwoman Chen Xiexia, gold medalist in the 2007 World Championships and clean and jerk world record holder, will step into keen competition against top lifters like defending Olympic champion Nurcan Taylan and world junior champion Sibel Ozkan, both of Turkey, and two Thai strongwomen.
China has dominated this category for years and has won 17 gold medals out of the total 19 world championships since 1987.
However, Chinese lifters have never won the 48kg class in the Olympics as China gave up the division in 2000 and more favored Chinese Li Zhuo lost to Taylan in 2004.
Turkish rookie Ozkan has lifted a total of 222kg in training, 5kg heavier over the world record kept by Chinese Yang Lian. Taylan also said she is looking forward to breaking the world record in Beijing.
The Thai lifters have stayed low as their Chiense coach Zhang Baoshun said they won't be threats to Chen. Thai team leader Boossaba Yodbangtoey even said the gold will go to China for sure.
Chen was injuried in July's training, raising concerns about her form. But Chinese team leader Ma Wenguang said Chen has well recovered from the injury and will win the first battle for Team China.
However, the women's team coach Ma Wenhui said that he asked Chen not to think much about the "first gold".
"We will make our utmost efforts. The results won't matter too much if we try our best," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2008)