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Sunday August 10, 2008

Amirul aims to break national record on his Olympic debut

EXPECT the national record in the 56kg category to go when Malaysian pocket Hercules Amirul Hamizan Ibrahim (pic) enters the stage for the men’s weightlifting competition at the Beijing Aeronautics and Astronautics Gymnasium tonight.

Amirul has been placed in Category A along with 10 other lifters with a 280kg-total entry level.

The Malaysian will find himself in the company of top lifters like Indonesia’s World Championships bronze medallist Irawan Eko Yuli, Vietnam’s Asian Championships gold medallist Anh Tuan Hoang and Cuba’s Sergio Alvarez.

Alvarez is the World Championships silver medallist while China’s Long Qingquan, making his international debut, is also seen as a strong contender after lifting a total of 286kg in the national trials recently.

Amirul’s best efforts of 117kg for snatch and 145kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 262kg were achieved en route to a fourth place finish in the Asian Championships in Japan in May.

He is now ranked 12th in the world and qualified for Beijing on merit.

Chinese coach Lin Xinhui may have taken a bold gamble by putting his charge on a higher starting weight but Amirul said it was “for strategy purposes”.

“I will probably start with a minimum lift of 260kg, which is almost 100 per cent near my personal best.

“But I have not decided yet. I may go straight to a higher weight, depending on how I feel tomorrow (today). My aim is to beat my personal best at least,” said Amirul, who bagged three gold medals in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

The glitter faded, however, when he was suspended for two years after testing positive for steroids in 2005.

But that’s all in the past and the Rompin-born Amirul is looking forward to his Olympic debut.

“I have an outside chance of winning a medal if we go in with the right strategy,” said Amirul.

“In my weight category, it is predominantly Asian lifters who excel.

“We have three lifts to do our best in the snatch, before we progress to the clean and jerk and the total determines our final position.

“The favourites may be very careful in the snatch and go all out in the clean and jerk. If we do it right, there is a chance.”

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