Girl power wows the fans in Nanjing

The women’s weightlifting competition at Nanjing 2014 was graced by some great displays of strength and technique. After Jiang Huihua had won China’s first medal of the YOG, Duanganksorn Chaidee and Rattanaphon Pakkaratha scored a double for Thailand, while Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Nien-Hsin and Sara Ahmed of Egypt also struck gold.

Jiang Huihua opens China’s account 

Jiang Huihua cruised to victory in the women’s 48kg event on 17 August, to win China’s first medal of the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

Lifting 88kg in the snatch, she followed up with a 105kg hoist in the clean and jerk to finish with a total of 193kg, more than four times her body weight.

Korea DPR’s Ri Songgum and Latvia’s Rebeka Koha finished joint second on 165kg, but with body weight the deciding factor when opponents tie, the lighter Ri was awarded the silver.

“It’s OK,” said Koha after having to settle for bronze. “I did a couple of personal bests today and a medal is a really big thing.”

Koha took an early lead in the competition when she lifted 75kg with her third and final attempt in the snatch, though the outcome was never in doubt once Jiang hoisted 88kg, much to the delight of the crowd. The Chinese athlete underlined her superiority by lifting 105kg in the clean and jerk, leaving her well clear of her two nearest rivals.

“I’m very excited to get the first gold medal for the Chinese delegation,” Jiang said. “I’m proud of my performance but I have [a] little pity for the snatch because I failed in the second chance [85kg].”

She added: “I still have lots of things to do to improve my skill in the snatch, especially in the continuous movement.”

Pakkaratha stays strong to win gold

It was little surprise to see Korea DPR’s Jong Chun Hui and Thailand’s Rattanaphon Pakkaratha - ranked second and third respectively in the International Weightlifting Federation’s rankings - fight it out for gold in the 53kg class on 18 August.

The pair ended the snatch tied in first place on 81kg, though the Thai proved the stronger in the clean and jerk.

After Jong had failed at 105kg with the last of her three lifts, Pakkaratha clinched the title by raising 106kg on her second lift. She went on to lift 109kg to finish nine kilos clear of her opponent, blowing kisses to the audience as she stepped away from the competition zone and into the arms of her ecstatic coach.

“I’m very excited,” said the gold medallist, who recorded personal bests in both the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Tunisia’s Nouha Landoulsi and Venezuela’s Yorlis Zabala tied for third on 175kg, with Landoulsi taking the bronze thanks to her lighter body weight.

No sweat for Chiang Nien-Hsin

Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Nien-Hsin turned in a composed performance to take the 58kg gold on 19 August.

In contrast to her closest challenger, Russia’s Anastasiia Petrova, whose groans and grunts reverberated around the Nanjing International Exhibition Center, Chiang was calmness personified as she went about her work.

Lifting 88kg in the snatch to take a three-kilo lead over the Russian, the diminutive Chiang then stretched her lead with successive clean and jerks of 107kg, 111kg and 115kg to finish eight kilos clear of the field.

“I felt very calm,’’ Chiang said. “This is very moving.” 

Lying fourth after the snatch, one kilo behind Indonesia’s Acchedya Jagaddhita, Argentina’s Sasha Nievas lifted 95kg with her first clean-and-jerk attempt to move into the bronze-medal position. The South American ensured she would stay there after raising 100kg with her second lift, with Jagaddhita missing out on her last two attempts.

Ahmed makes history

Sara Ahmed made history on 21 August when she came out on top in the 63kg event, becoming the first Egyptian woman to win individual gold in an Olympic competition.

Dominating from start to finish, the 16-year-old began by lifting 103kg in the snatch and then outdid everyone by clean-and-jerking 125kg for a combined total of 228kg.

Relieved her preparations had paid off, an emotional Ahmed later said: “Many things helped me become the best. Hard work and training for more than two years, and my coach, who has supported me for two years. I’m very happy that I won the first gold medal for Egypt [at Nanjing 2014]. It’s the first Olympic title for me and I hope there will be more to come.”

The silver went to Ana Lilia Duran Ayon of Mexico, who lifted 90kg in the snatch and 120kg in the clean and jerk to edge out Ukraine’s Sofiya Zenchenko. Trailing the Mexican by two kilos after the snatch, the Ukrainian could not make up the deficit and had to settle for bronze.

Chaidee on the charge

Thailand’s Duanganksorn  Chaidee took the final gold of the women’s competition on 22 August, coming out 26kg ahead of her rivals to win the +63k event.

“I expected to win a medal but not the gold,” a delighted Chaidee said afterwards. “I think the people of Thailand will be very happy with my result.”

After tying with Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Kapustina for second place, Svetlana Shcherbakova of Russia pocketed the silver on account of her lighter body weight, while there was heartbreak for Ecuador’s Lisseth Betzaida Ayovi Cabezas.

Within striking distance of a medal after the snatch, she struggled in the clean and jerk and eventually came in fourth, prompting her to burst into tears. Her team-mates came to the rescue, however, forming a circle around her and giving her a big group hug.