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Powerlifter Zhang repeats glory at Paralympics

Zhang Haidong of China repeated his glory at the Beijing Paralympic Games here on Monday as the world and Paralympic champion claimed the gold of the men`s 82.5kg category.

Zhang, a four-time Paralympian, lifted 225kg and 230kg in his first two attempts. He tried 249kg in his third to challenge the world record, which was held by himself in 2007 with 248.5kg, but failed.

Pavlos Mamalos of Greece lifted 225kg to take the silver, while Thaer Al-ali of Iraq hoisted 222.5kg to finish third.

"I`m not satisfied. I didn`t break the world record," Zhang said. "I`ve got an injury from a competition in Malaysia a year ago. I haven`t lifted 230kg since that competition because I didn`t want to get another injury before the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. I am still thirsty to break the world record.

"I want to say thanks to my parents and my wife," said the 39-year-old. "I have been in the sport since 1987. My parents gave me huge support and encouragement in these 21 years. Without their help, I cannot make the achievement.

"The 21 years is no easy for me, but it`s also no easy for my family," he said.

Born on October 11, 1969, Zhang caught a fever at the age of one, and after that the Jiangsu native could not move his legs due to polio.

Zhang started powerlifing in 1987 at the age of 18, and made his Paralympic debut in 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, and claimed the gold in the men`s 67.5kg category.

Zhang won the 75kg category gold twice in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Paralympics.

"Powerlifting has changed my life," Zhang said. "It made me find confidence and courage. Now I feel I live a happy life. We are the same with others. What they can do, we can do too.

"Age is not a main problem. In 2007, I could lift as heavy as 250kg. But it is true that it takes a much longer time for an older man to recover from injuries. The injury which would take me two or three months to recover, now it will need almost a year.

"But apart from injury, age is not a problem," he said.

Date:2008-9-16 8:39:00     
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