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Weightlifting rookies to challenge Olympic champions in Chinese National Games

JINAN, East China, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) — Though six of eight Beijing Olympic champions will show their power in the weightlifting competitions of the 11th Chinese National Games, rookies may not only challenge their domestic domination, but also their tickets of the London Olympics in 2012.

Liu Chunhong of the host Shandong team, the women’s 69kg class Olympic champion in 2004 and 2008, had decided to continue her career, aiming at her third Olympic gold medal in London.

“Liu will try her best in the National Games, but the gold medalis not her only goal. She will focus more on the preparation of the London Olympics,” Liu’s coach Ma Wenhui told Xinhua.

“Even if she won, She would not win the gold medal as easily as before in the National Games, because many rookies in the 69kg class are getting stronger,” he added.

“I think it is a good thing for Chinese weightlifting,” said Ma, also the head coach in the national team.

China dominated the weightlifting events in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as 10 Chinese lifters won eight golds and one silver in all the nine categories they entered.

All the four Chinese strongwomen fighting at the Games snatched golds. Besides Liu, other two strongwomen Cao Lei of Heilongjiang, 75kg class Olympic champion, and Chen Xiexia of Guangdong, 48kg class Olympic champion will also compete in the National Games.

Chen Yanqing, winner in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, retired after the Beijing Olympics.

Other Olympic weightlifting champions Long Qingquan, Liao Hui and Lu Yong will show up in the later men’s competition. Zhang Xiangxiang, Olympic champion in men’s 62kg, had turned his interest in the acting field.

“All the top eight lifters in every category in the National Games will be enrolled in the national team next month,” said Ma Wenguang, president of the Chinese Weightlifting Association.

“The rookies and the veterans will compete for the Olympic tickets. If the rookies’ performance are better than the Olympic champions, we will be happy to see them replace the veterans,” he added.

The weightlifting competition in the Chinese National Games, running from October 17 to 26, attracted a total of 226 lifters across China, including 130 strongwomen in seven categories and 144 strongmen in eight categories.

Chinese female lifters are so strong that 13 of all the 21 national records are higher than the world records of the same kind.

Though bettering weightlifting world records frequently happens in the National Games, the new results will not be counted as the world records due to the lack of the authentication from the International Weightlifting Federation.

by Liu Yang (