Liao wins 5th weightlifting gold for China

Aug. 12, 2008, 10:32 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) China added to its weightlifting gold rush at the Beijing Olympics Tuesday with Liao Hui winning the men's 69-kilogram category.

Liao, 20, snatched 158 kg (348.3 pounds) and heaved 190 kg (418.9 pounds) in the clean and jerk for a total of 348 kg (767.2 pounds).

France's Vencelas Dabaya-Tientcheu got the silver - his country's first Olympic weightlifting medal in 32 years - ahead of European champion Tigran Martirosyan of Armenia.

China has now won all five of the weight categories it has participated in so far: three for men and two for women. Teams can enter a maximum of 10 of the 15 categories.

Liao, last year's world champion, missed his first snatch at 153 kg (337.3 pound) but got the second. He then took 158 kg (348.3 pounds) in his third lift, leading the contest going into the clean and jerk, where he again failed his first attempt but rebounded by taking 185 kg (407.9 pound) and 190 kg (418.9 pounds) in his next attempts.

Dabaya-Tientcheu, who had already clinched the silver, loaded the bar to a massive 197 kg (434.3 pound), which would have tied the world record.

But he quickly realized he couldn't do it. He gripped the bar, felt its weight and walked away, shaking his head.

"I was motivated but I felt that the weight was too much for me," he said.

Dabaya-Tientcheu finished with a total of 338 kg (745.2 pounds), a personal best. Martirosyan achieved the same weight but had to settle for bronze because of a higher body weight than the Frenchman.

It was France's first Olympic weightlifting medal since Daniel Senet won a silver in Montreal in 1976.

Liao admitted that he was nervous that Dabaya-Tientcheu would tie the world record and steal the gold in his final try.

"When he was about to lift 197 kg I was indeed worried," Liao said. "But I kind of expected my opponent wouldn't be able to lift that weight."

Liao said his parents didn't want him to become a weightlifter. But his coach was persistent and made three trips to the family's home to persuade his parents he had a bright future in the sport.

"Many people believe that if you practice weightlifting ... you will end up being very short and fat," Liao said through a translator. "Because of that my parents didn't agree with the idea that I go into this profession."

South Korea's Lee Bae-young was in second place after the snatch but tore a calf muscle in his left leg on his first clean and jerk. He tried to complete his remaining two attempts anyway, even increasing the weight to gain more time to prepare.

Although the crowd roared him on in the final lift, he barely settled into a squat before dropping the bar and falling forward with clenched teeth.

China previously won the women's 48-kg and 58-kg divisions and the men's 56-kg and 62-kg categories.

Earlier Tuesday, Pak Hyon Suk grabbed North Korea's first weightlifting gold medal by winning the women's 63-kilogram division.