Chunhong makes it four straight

Updated: August 19, 2004, 5:26 PM ET
Associated Press

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 105-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, 440 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 16 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 264 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 319 pounds (145kg) in the clean and jerk trailed Liu's by 16 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.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE