Chinese Liao Hui Wins Olympic Men's 69kg Weightlifting Gold

Liao Hui won the mens' 69kg division by a big margin to give China its fifth weightlifting gold medal at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Chinese claimed the title at 348kg, beating French Vencelas Dabaya-Tientcheu by 10kgs who took the silver medal thanks to lighter body weight. Tigran Martirosyan of Armenia came third.

Liao's victory helped China equal the number of gold medals that China won at Athens four years ago as there are six competition days to go.

Liao struggled in the snatch. He claimed 153kg in the first attempt but only lifted it in the second one. As Lee Baeyoung succeed at 155kg in his third lift, Liao had to upgrade his attempt to 158 and made it with a loud shout.

This is Liao's second international competitions as he only took part in the 2007 World Cup before and took the title.

"I am surprised about the gold medal," said Liao, "I failed both my first snatch and jerk because I was a little bit nervous, this is my first Olympics."

Lee failed to keep pace in the clean and jerk as he hurt his left ankle in the first attempt and quit the competition, leaving Liao, Dabaya-Tientcheu and Martirosyan to fight for the medals.

Liao jerked 185kg on his second attempt to maintain the lead, but Vencelas responded with 187kg in his first lift. After Liao finished 190kg in his final attempt, Vencelas had to lift more than 197kg, which is a world record weight.

"I succeed at 160kg in snatch and 200kg in the clean and jerk during my training, so I believed that I could lift the 190kg. I just tried to calm down and make no mistake," said Liao.

Vencelas failed twice at 197kg, giving Liao his first Olympic gold.

Dabaya-Tientcheu, formerly represented Cameroon, finished fifth in Athens 2004 but won the 2006 World Championships at Santo Domingo, Dominica. He also won the 2007 European Championships at Strasbourg, France.

Men's 69kg is the only division where powerhouse China entered two players. Shi Zhiyong, who won the title of men's 62kg in Athens and changed to 69kg division after that, lifted 152kg in the snatch and quit the competition before the clean and jerk battle.

Martirosyan, title holder of 2008 Europeand Championship at Lignano, Italy, said that he was happy about the bronze medal and wished to compete with Liao in the future.

"This is not my best results but I am still happy about the bronze medal. Liao is perfect today, he deserved the gold, "said Martirosyan, "After Beijing, I will switch to the 77kg division. If the Chinese duo Liao and Shi would turn to 77kg, I wish I could meet them again and beat them."

Before Liao, China had swept all the four gold medals in as many events that the Chinese weightlifter took part.

(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2008)

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