Olympic title-winning lifter Hou draws inspiration from Rio pity

(Xinhua) 11:04, July 25, 2021

TOKYO, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese weightlifter Hou Zhihui, who set Olympic records to win the women's 49kg title at Tokyo 2020 here on Saturday, credited the regrets from her aborted journey to Rio 2016 for her triumph in Tokyo.

"I put on the jumpsuit dispatched in 2016 for the Rio Games, and stepped onto the Olympic stage of Tokyo 2020, with the belief for winning having been with me for the past five years," said the native of central China's Hunan province.

Hou lifted an Olympic record 116kg in the clean and jerk for a winning total of 210kg, also a new Olympic record.

This is the first gold medal in weightlifting and the second for the Chinese delegation at the Tokyo Olympics.

Saikhom Mirabai of India took the silver with 202kg, and Cantika Aisah of Indonesia, just 19 years old, got the bronze with 194kg.

Five years ago in Rio 2016, Hou was substituted at the last minute as the Chinese weightlifting team decided to replace her by Meng Suping of over-75kg division, who's reckoned having a better chance to win at Olympics.

Since then, the optimist by nature has turned less talkative but won almost everything in this Olympic cycle, including a gold medal at the 2019 worlds. She beat teammate Jiang Huihua in the Asian championships to earn a berth at Tokyo earlier this year.

"I'm so happy that I've finally realized my dream to stand on top of the podium as an Olympian," said an over joyful Hou. "It's a thrilling victory and I feel like I had spare strength to do more."

"I want to thank my team and my coaches, who make me feel safe while going all out," she commented after the medal ceremony.

With an Olympic-record lift of 94kg in the snatch, the 24-year-old kept her own rhythm, calling 109kg, 114kg and 116kg respectively in her three attempts in the clean and jerk and easily making it for the title.

"My coach Wang Guoxin told me to focus on my own game, caring only about the next lift of my own no matter what others were doing while fighting for the title," she added.

"Hou has performed as solidly as we'd expected," said Zhang Guozheng, head coach of the Chinese women's weightlifting team. "Her opponents are not strong enough to pose a risk, and we just want a 100 percent sure victory."

Mirabai, who trailed Hou by 7kg after the snatch, settled for second place after failing to lift 117kg in her third clean and jerk attempt.

"I've tried many times to beat her. I failed one attempt (on clean &jerk) but I was trying very hard to beat her," said the Indian.

In April's Asian Championships in Tashkent, Hou set two world marks to win the snatch and total golds, while Mirabai renewed Chinese lifter Jiang Huihua's world record to 119kg for the clean and jerk title. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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