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Weightlifters put names in history at Athens Olympics
Updated: 2004-08-16 07:58

Turkish weightlifter Halil Mutlu kept writing his legendary story in Athens by winning his third consecutive Olympic gold medal Sunday when strongwoman Udomporn Polsak became Thailand's first female Olympic gold medallist.

Showcasing his dominant prowess in the men's 56kg class, Mutlu snatched 135kg and lifted 160 for a winning total of 295.0 with a comfortable margin of 7.5kg ahead of Chinese Wu Meijin who took the silver.

Powering his way into history, Mutlu joined other weightlifting greats Naim Suleymanoglu of Turkey, Pyrros Dimas and Akakios Kakiasvili of Greece in the exclusive club of three gold medals.

The bronze went to Mutlu's teammate Sedat Artuc with a total of280, beating Vitali Dzerbianiou of Belarus and Oscar Albeiro Figueroa of Colombia on bodyweight. Figueroa earlier in the day was first in the 56kg Group B event.

"It's very nice for me to be an athlete who has won his third successive gold medal at the Olympic Games," Mutlu told reporters,adding "it's a great pleasure for me every time I win a gold medal."

"I am always happy when I win. But I don't feel anything special," he said.

Chinese Wu, a world champion and an Olympic debutant, was satisfied with his performances at the opening men's weightlifting competitions at the Athens Games.

"I am happy with my performance," he said. "I believe that I amat the same level as Mutlu."

Having the Beijing Olympics in sight, Wu said he was "very confident of winning the gold medal at the next Olympic Games."

Mutlu set up victory in the 56kg class with a powerful early performance in snatch and went further ahead in the clean and jerk to cement the winning turf.

Mutlu, whose name in Turkish means "happy", has not lost a major competition during the past nine years and has been considered the hottest ticket in the 56kg discipline at the Games.

He won at Atlanta (52kg) and Sydney (56kg) and competed in the 62kg class in Europe last year, but has returned to 56kg for Athens. He was fifth in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

Earlier the day, Polsak clinched the gold in the women's 53kg weightlifting division.

The 23-year-old Thai world champion continued her successful run, dominating both moves by snatching 97.5kg and lifting 125.0kgin the clean and jerk to finish a total of 222.5.

Polsak described the gold-claiming as "the greatest moment" of her life and career.

"I cannot describe my feelings," she said. "I dedicate this medal to Thailand and our queen who celebrated her 72nd birthday two days ago. "

"Another reason why I am so happy is because I am the first Thai woman to have won a gold medal (at an Olympics)," she added.

Polsak outlasted Indonesia's Raema Lisa Rumbewas who took the silver with a total of 210.0.

Rumbewas, a silver medallist in Sydney in the 48kg category, became the first Indonesian athlete to win a medal in successive Olympic Games.

The bronze went to Colombia's Mabel Mosquera with a total of 197.5kg, giving her country its second women's weightlifting medalfollowing Maria Isabel Urrutia's victory in the 75kg class in Sydney.

Polsak, developing a hobby of reading over years, said the mostinfluential persons in her career are her parents and anyone who has remarkable achievements becomes her idol.

Raised in a town in northeast Thailand, she showed her increasing prowess during the past couple of years, rising from third in the Warsaw World Championships to the title holder in Vancouver in 2003 in the 53kg division.

Rumbewas, who had been in the 53kg class for only one year, refrained from exaltation, saying she has yet to post a world record in the class at the Games.

"I am happy, but a little bit disappointed, because I expected to break the world record," she said.





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