China eyes new weightlifting medals

China could strengthen its grip on the Olympic weightlifting

competition Sunday after Wang Mingjuan’s gold medal in the opening

event.

Double world champion Wu Jingbiao is the front-runner in the

men’s 56-kilogram category while 17-year-old Zhou Jun has a shot at

reaching the podium in the women’s 53-kilogram class.

China is expected to top the weightlifting medal standings in

London and got off to a flying start as Wang, a four-time world

champion, dominated both the snatch and the clean and jerk in the

women’s 48-kilogram class.

With a 205-kilogram total, she was eight kilograms ahead of

silver medalist Hiromi Miyake of Japan. Ryang Chun Hwa of North

Korea got the bronze with a total of 192 kilograms.

”I hope this medal will provide encouragement for the rest of

the team,” said Wang, 26.

Asked why she thought China had become such a powerhouse in

women’s weightlifting, she had a short answer. ”Because our

country is really strong,” Wang said, smiling confidently.

However, the Chinese are facing stiffer competition in London

than in Beijing four years ago, when China won eight gold

medals.

World champion Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan is the favorite

to win the women’s 53-kilogram category Sunday and lifters from

Taiwan and Turkey may also prove too difficult for the

inexperienced Zhou.

In an apparent move to minimize pressure on her, the Chinese

coaches placed Zhou in the ”B” group, where she won’t face the

other medal contenders who compete later in the day. The drawback

for Zhou is her challengers will know what result they will need to

beat her, and can adjust their attempts accordingly.

Wu, 21, is a safer bet in the men’s lightest category, which he

has dominated in recent years. Azerbaijan’s Valentin Hristov and Le

Quoc Toan Tran of Vietnam are among his top challengers.