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Chunhong makes it four straight

8/19/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- What a day to be 19 and an Olympic
weightlifter.

Liu Chunhong gave China its fourth gold medal in less than a
week of Olympic weightlifting Thursday by breaking her own three
world records at 152 pounds (69kg).

Later, fellow teen Taner Sagir of Turkey -- months removed from
junior-level competition -- held off Sergei Filimonov of Kazakhstan
to win the gold at men's 170 pounds (77kg).

Sagir had only one prior world-class senior competition, winning
the European championships in April. He is the third Turkish
weightlifter to go gold in these games, joining women's 105½-pound
(48kg) winner Nurcan Taylan and three-time men's 123-pound (56kg)
champion Halil Mutlu.

"In juniors, I had really high positions and won medals and
that is what built up my confidence," Sagir said. "I haven't
noticed much difference (in seniors), not much has changed for me.
But the Olympic Games ... are unparalleled."

Sagir, who has lifted competitively since he was 9, and
Filimonov each raised an Olympic record 380 pounds (172.5kg) in the
snatch. But Sagir outlifted Filimonov by nearly 11 pounds on their
initial attempts in the clean and jerk, 440½ pounds to 430 pounds.
Filimonov made that weight on his second attempt but missed at 452
pounds on his third, allowing Sagir to get the gold by raising 446
pounds. His total of 826 pounds also is an Olympic record.

"Of course, I didn't expect this," said Filimonov, who was
troubled by a sore elbow. "If I had not been injured, I am sure I
would have done it better."

Oleg Perepetchenov of Russia took the bronze. Two-time defending
Olympic champion Zhan Xugang, 30, of China missed all three snatch
attempts of 347 pounds and didn't place.

Earlier, Liu easily made her five attempts before skipping her
sixth -- her final attempt in the clean and jerk -- because she
already owned the gold and the records.

Eszter Krutzler of Hungary took the silver, finishing 16½ pounds
behind Liu and another teenager, 17-year-old bronze medalist Zarema
Kasaeva of Russia.

The 1-2 finish by Liu and Krutzler mirrored that of the world
championships in November. Still, Liu didn't seem all that happy
with her performance.

"I will go back to China and continue to train to be ready for
the next games and achieve better results," the 19-year-old said.

Good luck.

While the other lifters grunted, screamed and threw off so much
perspiration that it flew into the television camera lens behind
the lifting podium, Liu looked no more strained than if she was
tossing a bag of groceries into the back of an SUV.

The Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall crowd let out audible
gasps as Liu effortlessly raised the large amounts of weight, and
it appeared she could have gone higher had it been necessary to
take the gold.

Liu, the world champion, set world records in the snatch of 270
pounds (122.5kg), the clean and jerk of 337 pounds (153kg) and
total lift of 606 pounds (275kg). The total lift was rounded down
to 606 because Olympic results are calculated only in increments of
2.5kg; she was allowed to lift the extra half-kilogram in the clean
and jerk to set the world record.

Liu broke her own world records of 264½ pounds (120kg) in the
snatch, 336 pounds (152.5kg) in the clean and jerk and total lift
of 595 pounds (270kg). The snatch and total lift records were set
in last year's world championships.

Krutzler twice missed attempts to tie Liu's record in the
snatch. Her best lift of 319½ pounds (145kg) in the clean and jerk
trailed Liu's by 16½ pounds.

"For a while I tried to keep pace, but she was extremely
strong," Krutzler said. "It (the silver) is OK. I can only
congratulate her. I think she's great."

Liu's gold continued a strong run by China since twin
disappointments Saturday and Sunday at women's 106 pounds and men's
123 pounds. The Chinese have totaled seven medals just in
weightlifting, four gold and three silver.