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Reborn Zhang retains Olympic gold for China
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10:01, August 12, 2008

In Athens, it was Shi Zhiyong to carry the glory hopes of China, in Beijing it is Zhang Xiangxiang's turn.

And they finally got the same results in their Olympic appearances. As hot favorites of the men's 62kg weightlifting, they did the same thing, lived up to the expectations and lifted the gold at the Olympics.

The 25-year-old Zhang failed to make a new world record but his brilliant performance earned great overdue cheer from crowd with 319kg on Monday.

"This is my second Olympics, I have been waiting for this gold medal for eight years. This time on the stage has been a perfect ending to my career," said Zhang.

With the very first lift Zhang removed any doubts about his fitness that caused him out of the sports for nearly three years. He claimed a 143kg in the third attempt and flung the weight above his head with a big smile stretched across his face.

Only one other athlete has ever made a bid to Zhang, Im Yong Su of DPR Korea, world champion in 2002, succeed at 142kg in the snatch, but he failed all the three attempts in the clean and jerk and quit the competition.

Zhang dominated the clean and jerk again, he took the gold medal at 176kg and tried a new Olympics record weight at 184kg but had no lift.

"Compared with the world record, Olympic gold medal is more important, " said Zhang. "Olympic title is an honor to my team and my country, and world record is a honor for myself. So I don't care about the new record, I won the title. Leave the challenge to the younger lifters."

Zhang's gold was so heavy as he had to struggle for five years to step on the Olympic platform again.

Zhang had a brilliant start in his Olympics debut as he won the bronze medal of men's 56kg division in Sydney as a 17 years old boy. Despite some big names like Shi Zhiyong, Wu Wenxiong, Zhang was considered another promising potential for China among star-stunned Chinese weightlifting team.

But Zhang's career was nearly concluded as his acantha was badly hurt in a medical accident in 2003. He had lost mind for three days and stopped training afterward.

"I nearly died. I am very happy that I could be here and talking with you, with a Olympic gold medal, what else should I ask for?" said Zhang.

Zhang missed the Athens after failing to record results in the Olympic qualifying tournament in China. He failed in his three attempts in snatch and was ruthless eliminated from the Olympic squad.

"I considered retiring from sports then, the accident badly damaged my body," said Zhang. "But I don't want to stop my sporting career with nothing in hands."

"And tell the truth, I devoted all my time to weightlifting. I didn't know what I could do if I retired at that time. So I stick to it again," said Zhang, smiling.

He turned to 62kg division and resumed fully training in the year of 2005 but he didn't have any good performance until the end of 2006.

"I am very patient about my training. I nearly died in the accident and was reborn, what could annoy me now?" said Zhang.

As defending champion Shi Zhiyong of China has been upgraded to the 69kg class. Zhang was keen to take the berth but doubts still remained.

On April 20 in the qualification competition in Quanzhou, southeast China, Zhang finally found his chance, he snatched 144kg and jerked 174kg to win the champion and a berth in China's Olympic squad, beating compatriot world champion Yang Fan.

"I am keeping telling me that never say give up," said Zhang. "I was in Sydney, missed Athens, now I am in Beijing, I have to do something to award 18 years hard work and people who trust me."

Source:Xinhua

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1 China 9 3 0 12
2 USA 3 4 5 12
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4 Australia 2 0 3 5
5 Japan 2 0 2 4
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