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Monday August 11, 2008

Weightlifter’s lucky name change helps her claim gold in the 53kg

PRAPAWADEE Jaroenrattana-tarakon thanked a fortune-teller for what she said was a lucky name change after claiming gold in the women’s 53kg weightlifting at the Beijing Olympics yesterday.

“The fortune-teller told me: ‘If you change your name you will win the gold',” said the 24-year-old Thai, who changed her name from Chanpim Kantatian last year for good luck.

“Some people believe in fortune-tellers and I am one of them, so I followed her advice.”

But after setting a new Olympic clean and jerk record of 126kg, on the way to a gold medal winning total lift of 221kg, Jaroenrattanatarakon added: “But it was not only down to luck. I trained hard for this.”

The Thai pumped her fists in delight and, as the crowd roared its encouragement, got ready to break the clean and jerk world record of 129kg held by China's world champion Li Ping with an audacious attempt to heave 130kg.

However, the effort failed and she had to console herself with the gold medal and an Olympic record.

Yoon Jinhe of North Korea won the silver with 213kg on count-back while Nastassia Novikava of Belarus settled for the bronze.

Jaroenrattanatarakon effectively won the gold medal with an initial clean and jerk attempt of 120kg, raising the bar to a level none of her eight rivals could match.

With the gold locked up, she turned her sights on the record books, breaking the eight year-old Olympic clean and jerk record, held by China's Yang Xia, with her second attempt.

With her performance, the Thais strengthened their women’s weightlifting credentials four years after winning their inaugural two Olympic gold medals at the Athens Games.

The team sent to Beijing comprised youngsters following the retirement last year of Athens trailblazers Pawina Thongsuk and Udomporn Polsak.

Jaroenrattanatarakon's effort here was a far cry from last year's world championships, where she failed in all her clean and jerk attempts.

“I had to practice very hard for it. I was lucky the Chinese did not enter a lifter in the 53kg,” she added.

The hosts, who won three women's lifting golds in Athens, had to pick their battles because each country has a quota of lifters that does not exceed four for women.

World champion Chen Xiexia won what is expected to be the first of up to four golds for the hosts in the 48kg class on Saturday.

The Thais’ two other entries, world number-two Pramsiri Bunphitak and world number three Pensiri Laosirikul both failed to win medals in that division.

Jaroenrattanatarakon said the first thing she did after winning was call her mother, who she had not seen for a long time after entering a training camp.

“I want to go home,” Jaroenrattanatarakon said. – AFP

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