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Chen wins Olympic weightlifting gold

Aug. 09, 2008, 2:03 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Chen Xiexia won China's first gold medal of the Beijing Games on Saturday, setting two Olympic records in the women's 48-kilogram category.

Sibel Ozkan of Turkey won the silver medal, while Chen Wei-ling of Taiwan finished third.

"I have been thinking of winning a medal but never thought it would turn out to be the first gold medal for China," Chen said. "I'm very happy and I think I did a very good job."

Buoyed by a roaring home crowd, the 25-year-old world champion dominated both events, lifting 95 kgs in the snatch and 117 kgs in the clean and jerk, an Olympic record.

Her total score of 212 kgs was also an Olympic high score, beating the previous record by 2 kgs.

Ozkan was a distant second with a total of 199 kgs, 3 kgs ahead of Chen Wei-ling. The Taiwanese had a shot at the silver medal, but failed in her final attempt at 115 kgs, collapsing to the floor as the bar dropped.

The 2004 Olympic champion, Nurcan Taylan of Turkey, was eliminated after three failed attempts in the snatch. Afterward, Taylan said she was not well prepared for the competition.

"I only had 20 to 30 training days and I had injuries, so I could be better," she said.

It was clear already after the snatch, in which the bar is raised above the head in one continuous motion, that Chen was in a class of her own. She was already 7 kgs ahead of Ozkan at that stage.

"Chen is very good," the 20-year-old Ozkan said, adding she was satisfied with the silver.

Chen continued to dominate in the clean and jerk, a two-step lift in which the bar is first held at shoulder level, and then pushed overhead.

She was the only one to successfully complete all of her six lifts in the competition, struggling only slightly on her final clean and jerk.

"I had the special support from the Chinese audience, and therefore I don't think I was under great pressure," Chen said.

Wrapped in a Chinese flag, she received the gold medal and sang along with the crowd to the Chinese national anthem. It will likely be sung many more times at the gym of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics as China is expected to win at least five gold medals in weightlifting, a sport it has dominated in recent years.

Seventeen-year-old Long Quing is next up for the Olympic host in the men's 56kg category on Sunday. He faces strong challengers, however, in world champion Cha Kum Kol of North Korea and 2008 Asian champion Anh Tuan Hoang of Vietnam.

China doesn't have any entries in Sunday's other competition, the women's 53 kg division, where the top spot looks set to be a three-way battle among Thailand, South Korea and Belarus.