Jang Wins Strongest Woman Title
Weightlifter Jang Mi-ran broke three world records on her way to an Olympic gold medal in the women's over 75-kilogram competition at the Beijing Olympics Saturday.
The 24-year-old South Korean lifted a record total of 326 kilograms, which was seven kilograms more than the previous record she shared with China's Mu Shuangshuang.
Jang also set world records with lifts of 140 kilograms in the snatch and 186 in the clean and jerk.
Jang easily won the gold against a field that did not include her top rival, Mu. With each country allowed only four entries in women's weightlifting, China left Mu out of its Olympic lineup, filling its spots with lifters in less competitive weight classes instead.
After waiting for 10 other competitors to finish their snatch attempts, Jang, the three-time defending world champion, raised 130 kilograms on her first attempt, six kilograms better than silver medalist Olha Korobka of Ukraine.
Jang then lifted 140 kilograms on her third and final attempt to break Mu's world record of 139.
In the clean and jerk, Jang, who belongs to a team in Goyang City, heaved 183 kilograms on her second attempt to move within one kilogram of Tang Gonghong's record, set at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Responding to loud cheers from the crowd, she added three more kilograms on her final attempt to secure the record.
Jang became the first South Korean woman to win an Olympic weightlifting title and the first athlete from outside of China to top her weight division. Since women's weightlifting was introduced as an Olympic sport at the 2000 Sydney Games, China had won two straight titles in the 75-kilogram class.
Jang's gold also ended a string of disappointments in big competitions.
Though she topped the world championships three straight times, she had never placed first at the Olympics or Asian Games.
Jang lifted a total of 302.5 kilograms, 2.5 kilograms behind Tang, to settle for a silver medal at the Athens Olympics.
She also took second at the Asian Games in 2002 and 2006.
Jang, a native of Gangwon Province, started the sport when she was 15 in 1998 by the persuasion of her father, who was also a weightlifter.
Thanks to her strong physique and good concentration, she was considered a prospect to lead South Korean women's weightlifting.
In 1999, Jang, who stands 1.7 meters tall, established herself by taking two bronze medals at a local contest. She went on to become the nation's top women's lifter every year since 2004.
Jang quickly stepped up at the international level. After the Athens silver, Jang earned her first world championship title in 2004 and added two more by beating Mu.
She set her first world record in 2006 with an overall score of 318 kilograms.
Her younger sister Mi-ryeong is also a weightlifter.