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'A journey of a thousand miles stars with one step' said Confucius. Apparently.

And while China's final gold medal haul may not quite reach a thousand, they're certainly going to win plenty and their 'first step' came today from Chen Xiexia.

The tiny weightlifter went into the women's 48 kg competition carrying the burden of the hopes of a nation and still managed to add to that a combined snatch and clean and jerk of 212 kilogrammes to win by a massive 13 kilos.

Silver went to Turkey's Sibel Ozkan and bronze to Taipei's Chen Wei-Ling.

Continue reading "Weightlifting doubts appear early"

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A question for you: When the Olympics comes around are you one of those people who a) quite enjoys watching the various sports, but only if there is someone from your country taking part and with a chance of winning a medal? or b) will watch and enjoy anything which provides sporting excellence, intrigue and great drama.

If your answer is "a" then you may well have little interest in the weightlifting competition in Beijing. If, however, you are more open-minded about your sports-watching then the weightlifting is something to savour.

Continue reading "The power of weightlifting"

Most of my work at the BBC is centred around golf and rugby, but when the Olympics comes round and there is an opportunity to help cover the greatest of all sporting events, then matters oval and dimpled ball are laid aside for a while.

My earliest Olympics memory is of Moscow - Goodhew, Coe, Ovett and Thompson all stars but, most of all for a Scottish child, Allan Wells was the hero. I think I joined in with 'Misha' the bear when the mascot shed a tear in the closing ceremony.

I was also strangely drawn to the main sport I will be covering in Beijing, weightlifting. It is one of the oldest and - on the surface at least - simplest sports. What could be more straight-forward than 'who can lift the heaviest weight'? From the giant Soviet lifter of the 1970's, Vasily Alexeyev, to the far smaller, but no less dominant Turkish/Bulgarian Naim Suleymanoglu - all have held a fascination.

I realise that I'm unlikely to be commentating on British success in the sport - although Commonwealth champion Michaela Breeze has been a fine exponent in recent years. That's because weightlifting is still largely dominated by Eastern Europe and Asia, whereas powerlifting (more 'gym-based' lifts of bench-press, squats and deadlifts) is more popular in the West.

But that won't detract from the attraction of the competition in Beijing. 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' is the motto - and the last of the three is surely decided by the weightlifting.

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