By Sportswriters Wu Chen, Liu Yang
Gold medalist Chen Xiexia of China shows the gold medal at the awarding ceremony of the women's 48kg weightlifting event at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics Gymnasium in Beijing, China, Aug. 9, 2008. Chen won the first gold for the Chinese Delegation with a total of 212 kilos. (Xinhua/Yang Lei)
BEIJING, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Chen Xiexia's coach lost
six kilograms of weight after the hot favorite for the Olympic women's 48kg
weightlifting title was accidentally injured less than a month before the start
of the Beijing Games.
But the 25-year-old girl managed to overcome the
setback and lived up to expectations on Saturday when she outclassed a handful
of world-class competitors to win the Olympic gold medal, the hosts' first gold
at the Games.
After 13 years of hard training and going through the
accident, the diminutive girl seemed to have a thousand reasons to cry, but she
didn't and instead showed a beautiful smile after the competition.
"There is nothing I fear after going through the low
tide," Chen said.
Shouting "Hey, Jiayou"(Go! Go!) to cheer herself up
before every attempt, Chen snatched 95kg and jerked 177kg for a winning total of
212kg. It is also China's first Olympic gold medal in this category.
"I didn't feel anything special. I have tried my best
to compete, whether or not this medal was the first gold," said Chen, who waved
to thank the enthusiastic home fans when standing on the podium.
Despite competing on home soil, Chen didn't feel a
lot of pressure. "What I thought was to make every good attempt and achieve as
much as I can," she said.
She really did. She fell into sound sleep at 9 pm on
the eve of the decisive battle.
Chinese coach Ma Wenhui, who gave a big hug to Chen
after the competition, said the girl has become mature.
Chen strained the muscle in her left leg 28 days ago
during a training session when attempting to jerk 115kg, which nearly cost her
the Olympic berth and triggered concerns about her fitness for the Beijing
"After she recovered from it, she turned out to be
different," Ma said.
"I felt depressed over the injury, but I never give
up," Chen said.
It's not easy to do so. Even Ma said he was
astonished and moved by her persistance. Chen never thought it would be such a
difficult road when she chose to practice weightlifting 13 years ago at 12 years
Born in Panyu City of south China's Guangdong
Province, Chen developed a keen interest in sports from her childhood. In 1995,
a weightlifting coach of a local amateur sports school spotted Chen, who has
good explosive strength, when he went to her primary school to pick up potential
"Is weightlifting interesting?" She asked with
curiosity, which led her to the road of weightlifting.
When Chen was still a newcomer in the weightlifting
team of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), two other lifters in her
class, Wang Mingjuan, two years younger than Chen, became world champion in 2002
and Yang Lian, born in 1982, smashed three world records at her world
championships debut in 2006.
Like an "ugly duckling", she hided herself in the
corner and never dared to dream of the Olympics, but she kept hard training, and
it paid off.
In the National Championships in 2006, Chen won a
bronze medal, which sent her into the national weightlifting team.
"The 2008 Beijing Olympics was only a daydream for me
before 2006 as I didn't make good performance. However, it became close to me
after I entered the national team," she said.
Chen survived the fierce competition and pressure in
the national team, where many newcomers are dropped each year, and rocketed to
the top of the national rankings last year.
"I have built up self-confidence since 2006," she
She made debut on the international competition stage
last April in the Asian Weightlifting Championships.
She jerked 120kg, one kilo heavier than the previous
world record, which was set by her teammate Yang Lian in 2006, and claimed the
gold. Excited journalists rushed to the "new face" to ask questions.
"Actually, I'm old. I'm just new to you," she
Three weeks later, she defeated Wang Mingjuan at the
Also in 2007, Chen went to Chiangmai in Thailand to
participate the World Weightlifting Championships, her first event abroad.
Ma Wenhui noticed that Chen became nervous when they
arrived and didn't sing songs during the training sessions as she usually
"You should act like a tigerling, biting whoever you
come across," Ma told her.
Chen smiled and relaxed. She gained three golds in
the world championships.
Ma said Chen was under certain pressure after rising
to stardom following a number of good performances, however, the injury changed