|Xiang Yanmei of China celebrates during the awarding ceremony for the women's 69KG weightlifting final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 10, 2016. Xiang Yanmei won the gold medal with 261KG. [Xinhua/Cheng Min]|
Xiang Yanmei of China shrugged off the unexpected neck injury to win the gold medal for China in the women's 69kg category final on Wednesday.
Xiang, winner at the world championships in 2013 and 2015, failed in her third attempt in the snatch competition when she put the 118kg barbell above her head but suddenly the barbell fell awkwardly on her head and down her neck and dropped to the floor.
"I saw little stars all of a sudden. I got hurt a little bit; I felt hurt when I knocked my head," Xiang said.
Despite the thrill, the 24-year-old Xiang still took the lead and kept the momentum to jerk 145kg with a winning total of 261kg.
"But I didn't think about it at all during the jerk, so it didn't affect my performance in the jerk," she said.
Zhazira Zhapparkul of Kazakhstan, who has stood below Xiang on the podium at the 2015 worlds, claimed the silver with a total of 259kg and the bronze went to Sara Ahmed of Egypt at 255kg.
"I didn't perform well today, but luckily, I made good jerks and won the gold. Actually, my opponents are quite strong," Xiang said.
"Now, I am going to prepare for the National Games next year, you know how fierce the domestic competitions are in China," she said.
Ahmed, 18, junior world champion in 2015, admitted that being a gold medalist at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games was a huge encouragement for her. She came to Rio Games for a medal.
"The Youth Olympic Games are a bit smaller and the athletes are all the same age, but here all of them have great experience and I am young to them. Here it is not easy for me to compete with them," Ahmed said.
"A medal means a new beginning, and we hope that any medals we win here would help re-establish Egypt as a successful weightlifting nation," she said.
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