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North Korea win weightlifting title.

8/12/2008 11:39:26 AM

North Korea's Pak Hyon-suk won the Olympic weightlifting gold medal in the women's 63kg class, beating Kazakh Irina Nekrassova by a single kilogram after a dramatic showdown in the absence of China.

Pak snatched 106kg and lifted 135kg in the clean and jerk, winning the gold medal with a combined total of 241kg.

Nekrassova, a former gymnast, won the silver, adding to Kazkhstan's 26 medals since its Olympic debut in 1996.

Taiwan's Lu Ying-chi took the bronze, to a backdrop of loud cheers from the mainland Chinese audience.

The competition turned into a battle between unlikely medal contenders after favourite Svetlana Tsarukaeva from Russia failed to snatch her targeted weight three times and dropped out.

Pak made two failed attempts in the clean and jerk and her final lift was a desperate bid to seize the gold which paid off.

North Korean lifters have been under enormous pressure to win in Beijing, with bronze medallist O Jong Ae breaking down on Monday because of her failure to land the gold.

Taiwanese lifter Lu Ying-chi was cheered on by cries of "Go! Go!" from Chinese fans, reflecting a cautious rapprochement between China and democratically ruled Taiwan after years of strained relations.

Li Rufeng, a retired factory manager from northeast China who was sitting in the audience, said the loud cheering for the Taiwan lifter was "natural".

"I don't think she's as strong as the Kazakh woman. But Taiwan is a part of China, so if she wins gold that also counts as ours," he said during the competition.

Taiwan is claimed by China as part of its territory.

A[umlaut] 2003 - 2008

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Date:Aug 14, 2008
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