Chinese weightlifters to put up a better show at home

July 17th, 2008 - 2:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 17 (Xinhua) Chinese weightlifters, who scooped five gold medals in both Sydney and Athens Olympics, are gearing up for a better show at home in the forthcoming Beijing Games. China is expected to field 10 strongmen and women in August, who will compete in five men’s categories and four women’s.

“We are in the final phase of selecting the Olympic competitors,” said Ma Wenguang, director of China’s Weightlifting, Wrestling and Judo Administrative Centre.

The first gold of Beijing Olympics weightlifting would be declared in women’s 48 kg class and Chen Xiexia, a strongwoman from the Guangdong province, is a favourite for the 48kg title, the one she unexpectedly lost in Athens 2004.

In other women’s classes, 58, 63, 69, and 75kg, lifters are striving for the three remaining quotas. Strong candidates are Athens gold medallists Chen Yanqing in 58kg and Liu Chunhong in 69kg, and last year’s world champions Liu Haixia in 63kg and Cao Lei in 75kg.

Chinese strongmen, who took one gold in Sydney and two in Athens, are facing tougher rivals in Beijing 2008.

Divisions they chose to compete will be the same as Athens, said Wenguang. Five weightlifters will be concentrating on the 56, 62, 69, 77, and 85kg categories, one of which features two Chinese strongmen aiming at a “double-lock guarantee”.

In men’s 77 and 85kg, Li Hongli and Lu Yong will be the China’s first choices. But their prospects for the Olympic gold are up to their performance in severe rivalries with European strongmen.

Both candidates Li Zheng, a world champion, and Long Qingquan in the 56kg category recently saw a better chance after Turkish Olympic champion Halail Mutlu announced his withdrawal from the Beijing Games.

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