LONDON (AFP) –
China’s Li Xueying set two new Olympic records as she crushed her rivals on the way to claiming gold in the women’s -58kg class on Monday.
Asian Games champion Li, also the current world silver medallist, produced a stunning performance in an enthralling competition at a packed ExCeL arena.
The 22-year-old recorded a combined total of 246kg after snatching 108kg and registering a best in the clean and jerk of 138kg. Both the snatch and total were Olympic records.
She narrowly missed a final clean and jerk at 144kg which would have given her a deserved world record.
“I didn’t do well last year at the world champs and that was a hard lesson to learn,” said Li, who played down how far ahead of the field she was.
“In every competition, I try my best. I don’t pay attention to my rivals, strong or not.
“I was a little nervous because it’s my first Olympic Games. I was a bit hasty on my first snatch, I wasn’t quite as calm as normal.”
Thailand’s Pimsiri Sirikaew took silver with a total of 236kg (100, 136), with Ukraine’s Yuliya Kalina claiming bronze with 235kg (106, 129).
The gold medal showing was sweet revenge for Li over Belarus’ current world champion Natassia Novikava, who trumped the Chinese lifter at the 2011 world championships in Paris.
Novikava dramatically saw her final clean and jerk at 133kg ruled out by the judges after she tottered on the stage and the Belarus lifter missed out altogether on the podium, finishing down in seventh.
“I have no feelings, it was no result,” said the disgruntled Novikava, who momentarily sat down on the stairs in disbelief at the judges’ ruling.
Li failed with her first snatch at 105kg, but nailed the second and produced a perfect third attempt to set a new Olympic record of 108kg, to roars from a raucous crowd that had seen local hope Zoe Smith finish 12th after she set a new British record in the morning’s ‘B’ group.
Novikava failed with her third attempt, at the same weight, leaving her a crucial 5kg off.
Ukraine’s Yuliya Kalina hoisted 106kg, with current European champion Boyanka Kostova of Azerbaijan in third after the snatch at 1kg.
Novikava came in to the clean and jerk at 127kg, 19-year-old Kostova taking an early lead after wrapping up at 128kg for a total of 233kg.
Kalina fired back with a best of 129kg in the two-phase lift for a total of 235kg.
Li came in at 133kg and seamlessly advanced to 138kg, showing a power that made hoisting the barbell under pressure look easy.
Thai duo Pimsiri and Rattikan Gulnoi then showed their clean and jerk prowess to move quickly up the field past their European rivals, the latter missing out on a podium spot after failing with her final lift.
Albanian Romela Begaj, a former circus performer, earlier livened up proceedings after her botched third clean and jerk when she shooed officials out of the way to perform an acrobatic flick-flack to the stairs, to the delight of the 6,000 crowd.