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Mixed joy and sadness for Chinese strongwoman Cao Lei
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21:59, August 15, 2008

A big smile could be seen in Cao Lei's face when she hugged her coach after claiming the women's 75kg category weightlifting gold medal at the Beijing Olympics here on Friday.

"I was excited and overjoyed because I won the seventh gold medal for Chinese weightlifting," said Cao, who won the event with a total of 282kg, breaking three Olympic records.

It's also the first Olympic gold for China in the category.

However, she couldn't stop crying when being asked why she failed her last world record-breaking attempt in clean and jerk.

"I was distracted, I couldn't focus, I thought of my mom," she said, sobbing.

Cao Lei's mother died not long ago before the Games. She was told by her coach during a training session as her father didn't want to distract her from training. He told the women's team coach Ma Wenhui after the funeral and asked Ma to decide whether to let Cao Lei know.

Ma told her.

"She should know that. And I think as a top weightlifter, she was able to go through this," he said.

He said Cao cried for hours but concentrated more on trainings. She finally failed to concentrate when she tried to break a total world record in her third clean and jerk attempt Friday. Before that, she had already claimed the gold.

"There was some kind of psychological change," Cao said.

Ma said he could fully understand her.

"I knew that she must have been thinking of her mother," he said.

Cao Lei dedicated the gold to her mother.

"I just want to go home in memory of my mother," she said when talking about her future plans.


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