Weightlifting/Star to watch: Chen seeks repeat of Athens glory

2008-07-27 08:30:00 GMT       2008-07-27 16:30:00 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

by Sportswriter Xu Zheng

BEIJING, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Weightlifter Chen Yanqing has experienced highs and lows of the Olympic Games, winning the women's 58kg class gold in 2004 after failing to make it to the Chinese team in 2000.

She retired twice and vowed never to lift barbells any more in 2005, but the 29-year-old Chen returned to the platform, saying that her love of sports was too deep to quit.

Eight years ago, Chen was considered the most promising athlete in the 58kg class in Sydney as she had dominated the division for three years since she won the world championships in 1997, but her bid was derailed months before the Sydney Olympics because of the news that a DPR Korean lifter had posted a world best performance.

The Chinese team eventually decided to skip her class. With Olympic rules limiting each nation to competing in just four of the seven women's weightlifting categories, and in such a strong Chinese team, Chen is still not certain of competing in Sydney.

The decision was devastating for then 21-year-old Chen, who quit the sport until she came back for the Athens Olympics, in which she won the title with a total of 237.5kg.

In 2005, when Chinese weightlifting officials charged her with an East Asian Games duty in Macao, Chen said she was bored by repetitive pumping of barbells.

She reappeared in the national team in January 2006 and took a national title in April, underlining her status as the queen of the58kg class.

"I am so sorry for my retirement announcement. My love for weightlifting is endless so I decided to come back," Chen said. "Even in my retirement, I knew my love of weightlifting didn't end. I thought about my future over and over in winter and made the decision."

Chen stunned Asia in her first international action since 2004 as she broke the women's 58kg total world record by lifting 111kg in snatch and 137kg in jerk at the 15th Asian Games in Doha.

As the 2008 Beijing Olympics draws near, Chen says she is aiming for another Olympic gold.

"The Beijing Olympic Games is an opportunity once for all, for which I am willing to give up my best years of life," said Chen.

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