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Chinese Zhang wins men's 62kg class weightlifting gold
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09:54, August 12, 2008

Zhang Xiangxiang of China takes a lift during men's weightlifting 62kg Group A competition of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics Gymnasium in Beijing, China, Aug. 11, 2008. Zhang won the gold medal in the event. (Xinhua/Yang Lei)

Chinese strongman Zhang Xiangxiang totaled 319 kilograms to win the men's 62kg class weightlifting gold medal at the Olympic Games on Monday.

Zhang, 25, kneeled down four times to thank the responsive home fans, who roared to support him when he tried to break the world record in his third clean and jerk attempt.

"It's also for all my supporters," he said.

Zhang was still very happy despite the failed try at the world record. He crouched on the platform and kissed the barbells.

"The world record is a personal honor, while the gold is the honor of the country, so gold matters more than the record," he said.

Zhang finished number one in the snatch with 143kg. At that time, he still faced strong threats from Ji Hun-min of South Korea, who snatched 142kg, and DPR Korean lifter Im Yong Su, 2002 world champion, with 138kg. But both challengers failed in all three attempts in clean and jerk.

With arch rivals gone, Zhang dominated the field as no other lifters were able to hoist the weight Zhang jerked in his first attempt.

Zhang, bronze medalist at the Sydney Games in men's 56kg category, was upgraded to current category and got the junior world champion in 2002. He survived a medical accident, which almost took his life, in 2003 and got into low ebbs till 2006.

"As long as you have life, you can create everything," he said.

Zhang claimed national champion last year, which helped him qualify for the Olympics as another star lifter Qiu Le, two-time world champion, got injured in the 2007 world championships.

"The key thing is persistence and never backing down," Zhang said.

The men's team coach Chen Wenbin was also impressed by Zhang's persistence.

"Everyone of our team should learn from him," he said, adding that they had made different plans to compete with the strong rivals, especially Im Yong Su, who is also silver medalist in 2007 world championship.

"There were some problems with Im's strategy and techniques today," Chen said.

Zhang suggested at the press conference that he might retire after the Games.

"This time on the stage can be a perfect ending to my career," he said.

Colombia's Diego Salazar took the silver with 305kg, Colombia's first medal in Beijing.

Salazar danced on the platform after the medal-rewarding ceremony.

"I had to work hard for a long time to win silver, so I am very satisfied with myself," he said.

His coach Ciro Solano highly praised Salazar's achievement.

"This silver medal is for all of the Colombian people. We really needed this," he said.

Indonesian Triyatno got the bronze with 298kg, which he was not quite happy with.

"I've done 305kg in my training," he said.


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