Gold bar: China’s weightlifters step up to deliver at Olympic Games

Long Qingquan sets a world record in the men’s 56kg category, while Deng Wei becomes the first women’s weightlifter to lift a gold for China and Xiang Yanmei survives dropping the bar on her head to claim victory

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 August, 2016, 9:39am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 August, 2016, 9:39am

In part three of the Post’s look at China’s 26 gold medal haul at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro ahead of this weekend’s visit to Hong Kong of a 64-strong delegation, weightlifting lives up to its great expectations.

Long Qingquan - Weightlifting - Men’s 56kg

Long captured his second Olympic gold medal with a total of 307kg, breaking a 16-year-old, 305kg record set by Halil Mutlu of Turkey from the 2000 Sydney Games. Long beat Om Yun-chol, the 2012 Olympic champion from North Korea, by 4kg. “I had two targets for the Rio Games, winning the gold medal and breaking the world record. I achieved both,” said Long, a gold medallist in Beijing 2008 who failed to make the London team after being overlooked during internal selection. “I owe so much to my wife and my child for making my Olympic dream come true and would like to spend more time with them in future.”

Deng Wei - Weightlifting - Women’s 63kg

The first women’s weightlifter to lift a gold for China after the disaster of fellow teammate Li Yajun on the opening day. With the last-minute withdrawal of Lin Tzu-chi of Taiwan because of a positive doping test, Deng smashed her own world record in the clean and jerk and Lin’s for total weight. “I was tense because of the pressure, but once the event started, everything went smoothly,” she said. “The absence of Lin had little impact on my performance and I just followed the plan, including breaking the world records.”

Shi Zhiyong - Weightlifting - Men’s 69kg

Surprisingly dropped from the squad due to “injury” prior to the Games, Shi was a last minute call-up to replace Liao Hui and the 2008 Olympic champion and the 2015 world champion did not let the team down. “Liao has been unbeatable from Beijing 2008 to the beginning of the Rio Games,” said Shi. “I must thank the Sports General Administration for giving me the chance to compete in Rio so I can defend the honour of my country in the 69kg category. Also, I can live up to the name of Shi Zhiyong,” he added, referring to another Chinese weightlifter named Shi Zhiyong, who was the 62kg champion in Athens 2004.

Xiang Yanmei - Weightlifting - Women’s 69kg

Olympic debutant Xiang shrugged off a blow to the head during the snatch to finish the event with a total weight of 261kg. Xiang, who first became national champion in 2010, said: “I have suffered some ups and downs during these years, but fortunately the team has been there to help me, especially my coach Zhou Jihong,” he said. “I could not finish well in Rio due to the injury and my target will be breaking the world record and I want to do it at the National Games next year.” Compatriot Liu Chunhong holds the world record at 286kg.

Meng Suping - Weightlifting - Women’s 75kg and above

Meng endeared herself to all after bowing three times on the floor after winning gold. She was a lucky last-minute replacement for the injured Hou Zhihui, who was already in Brazil to compete in the 48kg event. “I am always ready and willing to represent my country and was training on my own, even though I saw off my teammates for Brazil,” she said. “But I still felt nervous during the competition as the Olympic Games are like nothing else and I failed to perform my best. But thanks to all the support, I won the gold medal.”