China flips over two weightlifting golds
Updated: 2004-08-17 06:35
China bounced back from two days of disappointment in a sport it often
dominates by sweeping gold medals in Monday's two events and finishing 1-2 at
men's 137 pounds (62kg).
A determined Shi Zhiyong, deterred neither by the pro-Greece crowd nor his
own teammate, held off countryman Le Maosheng and Greece's Leonidas Sampanis to
win the men's gold ！ his first world championship above the junior level.
China's Shi Zhiyong
does a backflip as he wins gold in the men's 62 kg event in the Athens
2004 Olympic Games August 16, 2004.
Shi celebrated with a backflip, perhaps because he finally gets to eat again.
He shed nearly nine pounds over three meal-less days to make weight, and even
then was only an ounce under.
Le settled for silver, missing a world-record attempt on his final two lifts
that would have given him the gold. Sampanis, a silver medalist in the last two
Olympics, tied Le's total of 689 pounds but settled for the bronze because of
higher body weight.
A nearly full arena ！ a rarity at the Athens Games ！ roared with every
successful Sampanis lift, then gave him a lengthy standing ovation as he led his
young daughter across the platform following the awards ceremony.
"I really hope it will lead all the (Greek) athletes to happiness," Sampanis
Shi's deftly executed flip came after he raised 380 pounds in the clean and
jerk, all but assuring himself of the gold. The backflip is not a move common to
muscle-laden weightlifters even if, at 5-foot-3, Shi is gymnast-sized.
"Ever since I was small, I liked to play little tricks," he said. "I was very
happy, so I did a somersault ！ but it was not especially prepared for this
Le twice tried 408-pound lifts that would have broken his own clean and jerk
world record by 5 1/2 pounds and given him the gold, but didn't come closer on
Earlier, Chen Yanqing returned to the world weightlifting stage after a
prolonged absence to win the women's gold medal at 127 pounds (58 kg), her first
major title since winning the 1999 world championship in Athens.
Chen's victory gave China its fifth gold medal in six events since Olympic
women's weightlifting debuted in 2000. The only loss came in Saturday's 105 1/2
pound (48 kg) finals, when Turkey's Nurcan Taylan upset China's Li Zhuo with a
series of world-record lifts.
China dealt with more disappointment Sunday when Wu Meijin couldn't overtake
three-time champion Halil Mutlu and got silver at men's 123 pounds (56 kg).
Sampanis' performance brought two things previously missing at the Nikaia
Olympic Weightlifting Hall: spectators and noise. All but one sideline section
was filled after fewer than 500 fans showed up for each of the four previous
They had plenty to cheer, too. Sampanis, who didn't place in the spring
European championships after missing all three clean-and-jerk attempts, lifted
319 1/2 pounds in the snatch ！ 16 1/2 more than he did in the spring.
But he missed at 325 pounds ！ Shi's opening weight, which he hit easily ！ and
Shi then made his second try at an Olympic-record 336 pounds. He surpassed the
330 1/2 pounds raised by gold medalist Nikolai Peshalov of Croatia in 2000.
With such a 16 1/2-pound lead heading into the clean and jerk, Shi needed to
avoid only a 3-for-3 wipeout that would have left him with no total. As a
result, he downsized his planned opening attempt from 375 pounds to 369 to
assure him of getting the successful lift he needed for an official total.
His total lift of 716 pounds equaled Peshalov's 2000 world record set in
Chen, meanwhile, beat the same weightlifter ！ North Korea's Ri Song Hui ！ as
she did in the 1999 worlds in Athens, and by the same amount as then, 11 pounds.
She totaled 523 1/2 pounds to Ri's 512 1/2 pounds.
Chen retired for two years before resuming the sport only nine months ago.
"I didn't think I would go for the Olympics, I wanted only to prevail step by
step in my own training," she said. "I didn't start training in a group (the
national team) until February, and I still wasn't thinking Olympics. It has been
a very long and painful effort, and I did it with perseverance and will power."
Wandee Kameaim lifted 507 pounds for the bronze, Thailand's second
weightlifting medal in as many days. Udomporn Polsak became the first female
gold medalist in Thai history by winning Sunday at 117 pounds (53