Liao Hui of China celebrates after taking a successful lift during the men's 69kg final of weightlifting at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Liao won the gold medal with a total of 348 kilos.[Xinhua]
Liao Hui won the men's 69kg division by a big margin to give China its fifth weightlifting gold medal at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Chinese claimed the title at 348kg, beating French Vencelas Dabaya-Tientcheu by 10kg, who took the silver medal thanks to lighter body weight. Tigran Martirosyan of Armenia came third.
Liao's victory helped China equal the number of gold medals that China won at Athens four years ago as there are six competition days to go.
"This is a exciting competition, but not perfect for Liao. He was young and not stable. We will try to find the problem," commented Chen Wenbin, head coach of China's men's team.
Liao struggled in the snatch. He claimed 153kg in the first attempt but only lifted it in the second one. As South Korean Lee Baeyoung succeeded at 155kg in his third lift, Liao had to upgrade his attempt to 158 and made it with a loud shout.
"I am surprised about the gold medal," said Liao, "I failed both my first snatch and jerk because I was a little bit nervous. This is my first Olympics."
Lee failed to keep pace in the clean and jerk as he hurt his left ankle in the first attempt and quit the competition, leaving Liao, Dabaya-Tientcheu and Martirosyan to fight for the medals.
Liao jerked 185kg on his second attempt to maintain the lead, but Dabaya-Tientcheu responded with 187kg in his first lift. After Liao finished 190kg in his final attempt, Vencelas had to lift more than 197kg, which is a world record weight.
"I succeeded at 160kg in snatch and 200kg in the clean and jerk during my training, so I believed that I could lift the 190kg. I just tried to calm down and make no mistake," said Liao.
Dabaya-Tientcheu failed at his second attempt at 197kg and gave up his third one, giving Liao his first Olympic gold.
Liao said that he was very nervous because he would lose the gold if Dabaya-Tientcheu succeeded.
"The Frenchman is a very strong lifter. He lifted the 187kg easily, which scared me," said Liao. "I was quite worried that he could lift the 197kg. I had finished all my three attempts and had no chance to fight back. "
Liao Hui of China takes a snatch lift during the men's 69kg final of weightlifting at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Liao won the gold medal with a total of 348 kilos.[Xinhua Photo]
"I am lucky that he didn't," added Liao.
"Thing went so fast in the competition, I had no time to think, but just went out there to lift 197kg," said Dabaya-Tientcheu, "but I never succeeded at such weight, even during my training session. The weight is too much for me."
"The Chinese made a great tactical performance. Usually they are physically strong, but today they were tactically perfect as well," he added.
Dabaya-Tientcheu, who used to represent Cameroon, finished fifth in Athens 2004 but won the 2006 World Championships at Santo Domingo, Dominica. He also won the 2007 European Championships at Strasbourg, France.
"But I won't give up. I will be stronger after four years," added Dabaya-Tientcheu.
Men's 69kg is the only division where powerhouse China entered two players. Shi Zhiyong, who won the title of men's 62kg in Athens and switched to 69kg after that, lifted 152kg in the snatch and quit the competition before the clean and jerk battle.
"Shi hurt his waist before the clean and jerk event and had to quit the competition," said Chen Wenbin.
Martirosyan, title holder of 2008 European Championship at Lignano, Italy, said that he was happy about the bronze medal and wished to compete with Liao in the future.
"This is not my best results but I am still happy about the bronze medal. Liao is perfect today, he deserves the gold, "said Martirosyan, "After Beijing, I will switch to the 77kg division. If the Chinese Liao and Shi would turn to 77kg, I wish I could meet them again and beat them."
This is Liao's second international competitions as he only took part in the 2007 World Cup before and took the title.
Liao Hui (R) of China and his coach salute to spectators after winning the men's 69kg final of weightlifting at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Liao won the gold medal with a total of 348 kilos. [Xinhua]
"When I first touched the barbells, my family didn't want me to involve in weightlifting, but I was happy to," said Liao. "I wasn't a good student at school then and I wished to be an athlete."
"China have three strongmen in the men's 69kg division, Shi and defending Olympic champion Zhang Guozheng. They are my elder brothers. I never saw them as rivals. At Olympics, I have to beat everyone to win the gold, but outside the lifting stage, we are friends,"
"When I finished all the things here, I will go to see Shi. He was disappointed because of he didn't finish the competition," he added.
Before Liao, China had swept all the four gold medals in as many events that the Chinese weightlifter took part.
(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2008)