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Liu stamps her class in Olympic weightlifting
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Chinese Liu Chunhong stamped her name in the Olympic history as she shattered her own three world records five times at the Olympic weightlifting competition in Beijing on Wednesday.

Liu set the snatch world record of 128kg, clean and jerk record of 158 and the total mark of 286 to win her second Olympic gold in the women's 69kg division.

Watched by twice world champion Oxana Slivenko of Russia, Liu bettered

the total record by a whopping 10 kilos, proving herself as the strongest in the category and confirming China's status as the superpower in women's weightlifting.

"I think these records won't be broken in two years," said a confident Liu. "I want to show all my strength during the competition. If someone broke it, I would go out to snatch the record back."

Slivenko and Natalya Davydova of Ukraine, who finished second and third overall, tried to cause some trouble to Liu, but the Chinese woman heaved a staggering 128kg in the snatch to ensure the mark to be hers.

"Obviously Liu's results are impressive, there is no doubt about that," said Slivenko, whose 255kg is 21 kilos short of her winning result at the 2007 World Championships.

"This is in China, I am not surprised with the results. The Chinese lifters showed high level in previous competitions and today is another demonstration,"

"Everyone had much pressure in the Olympics, that's why I lifted a lower weight in Beijing," said Slivenko.

Liu started weightlifting in 1996 and entered the national team in 2002. She won the world championship at the women's 69kg class in Vancouver, Canada, in 2003 and became a hot favorite for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

The then 19-year-old Liu faced no threat in Athens, breaking her own three world records. With 122.5 in the snatch and 153 in the jerk, Liu had a combined winning lift of 275kg.

But she was still unsatisfied for a failed third attempt in clean and jerk in Athens.

"I failed at my third attempt in Athens, which was a regret for four years," said Liu, "But today, I upgraded the world record to 286kg. I have no regrets anymore."

Upgraded to the 75kg after the Athens Olympics, Liu continued her winning momentum, breaking the three world records in the 2005 world championships in Doha, Qatar, and establishing her dominance in both divisions.

In the 2006 Worlds in Santo Domingo, Liu sustained a serious elbow injury while trying 111kg in the snatch and had to quit the competition.

She stopped training for a whole year and missed the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

"I had to stop training and competing for long time," she said. "I was afraid I would lose the feeling of competition."

Liu returned in 2007 and took part in the world championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but she met a strong challenge from Russian Oxana Slivenko.

Slivenko was world champion in 2006 when Liu stayed away from the sport. She also broke the world record of snatch with 123kg during the competition.

The then 19-year-old Russian beat Liu for the gold in the 2007 world championships and set a new world total of 276kg. Liu took the silver with 271kg.

But Liu was quite happy about the silver, saying she had found her rhythm and touch.

"I was happy that I won the silver medal. I had stopped training for nearly a year and missed the Asian Games. I am quite satisfied that I won the a medal after I recovered from a serious injury," said Liu,

"More important was that I found the rhythm and confidence for the Beijing Olympics."

Brimming with confidence, Liu overwhelmed the Russian Olympic debutant, making Wednesday's 69kg division a one-woman show.

"It is exciting to take part in the Olympics in my home country and it is fantastic that I won the gold medal," said Liu.

"I am not sure about the future, but I will have a good rest and go to see my parents."

"Last time when I went home from Athens, I stayed with my parents only for six days and I had to return to the training camp. This time I will stay much longer for sure," added Liu, who grew up in an apple orchard in Zhaoyuan City, east China's Shandong Province.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2008)

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