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Jang Pulls Her Weight in Winning Olympic Glory

Posted August. 18, 2008 23:33,   


Everyone deemed Jang Mi-ran a sure thing in the Beijing Olympics.

Jang, however, made it a more entertaining competition by setting a series of new world records. Though the event was lopsided in her favor from the beginning, she never let emotion get to her. She seemed as if she was brushing away ignorance and winning attention.

In the men`s weightlifting competition, Sa Jae-hyouk, 23, won the gold in the 77-kilogram class. Jang also won but did so in a more convincing fashion.

The last Korean to win a gold in weightlifting was Chun Byung-kwan in 1992.

In Beijing Saturday, Jang lifted 140 kilograms in the snatch and 186 kilograms in the clean and jerk in the super-heavyweight class. Her combined score of 326 kilograms was 49 kilograms ahead of Olha Korobka of Ukraine.

Jang made all of her attempts. On her third attempt, Jang snatched 140 kilograms, setting a world mark one kilogram better than China`s Mu Shuangshuang at the 2006 Asian Games. On her second attempt in the clean and jerk, Jang lifted 183 kilograms, breaking China’s Tang Gonghong’s world record of 182 kilograms at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Two minutes later, Jang set another world record by lifting 186 kilograms, exceeding Mu’s previous record of 319 kilograms by seven kilograms.

Jang lost to Mu in the last Asian Games, but Mu did not compete in the Beijing Olympics. Jang, however, showed she would have won anyway by setting three world records.

In weightlifting, a country can field five male lifters and four female. China opted not to send Mu given the tight competition for the gold with Jang. China`s four female weightlifters all won golds.

Jang said, “A gold medal cannot be won without God`s help. I feel so happy and thankful.” Among her fans in the stands was her father Jang Ho-cheol, 56, who was also a weightlifter. He recommended that his daughter follow his footstep.

His daughter refused at first, saying, “Why push me toward weightlifting? I’m a woman!” Upon persistent persuasion, however, she decided to walk his path.

A standout student, Jang gained weight in fifth grade, inviting teasing from her classmates. Carrying the DNA of an athlete, Jang gained more weight day after day. Watching her daughter’s growth, her father got convinced she would make it big, and he was right.

Women’s weightlifting coach Oh Seung-woo and his assistant Kim Do-hee also contributed a lot. Oh said, “Jang earned it the hardest way possible.”

Assistant coach Kim did her best to help Jang gain more weight by cooking dishes for Jang all day long. For Jang, the team brought 15 boxes of food from Korea, but Kim went to Korean groceries in Beijing to make up for any shortage.

For a 25-year-old lady, it is tough to have to gain weight. Good looking is not in Jang’s dictionary, but Jang shone a beautiful radiance when she lifted up the gold.