INCHEON (AFP) – Taiwan’s national weightlifting coach said Thursday that he hoped the stunning success of his golden girls could lift spirits back home in a devastated city close to their hearts.
Both Taiwan’s gold medallists this week, Hsu Shu-ching (53kg) and Lin Tzu-chi (63kg), are graduate students in the southern city of Kaohsiung which was devastated by gas explosions less than two months ago.
They attend Kaohsiung Medical University, whose Chung Ho Memorial Hospital facilities became an emergency treatment centre when 30 people were killed and 300 injured in a series of enormous blasts on July 31.
“We hope that this good performance is a consolation to southern Taiwan which suffered from methane gas explosions,” coach Tsai Wen-yee told a news conference in Incheon.
Explosions in underground industrial pipelines that criss-cross Kaohsiung sparked massive fires, opening gaping trenches down the middle of streets and throwing vehicles on to the roofs of buildings several stories high.
“We hope we can give off a force of positive energy,” coach Tsai added.
Taiwan’s women have gone toe-to-toe with the mighty Chinese and North Korean weightlifters in the Asian Games and remarkably come out on top, winning two gold medals.
China and North Korea’s women have just one gold apiece to date. Taiwan also have a bronze tucked away, through former Asian champion Huang Shih-hsu in the 69kg class. Huang and Lin were both born in nearby Pintung, just 17 kilometres from Kaohsiung.
The outstanding Lin smashed world records in the clean and jerk (145kg) and combined (261kg) to beat China’s world champion Deng Wei in a pulsating duel by just 2kg, as Deng also exceeded the old marks.
And Lin, speaking alongside her coach, was clear that everything would now be focused towards the 2016 Olympics, despite the fast-approaching world championships in Kazakhstan in November.
“At the moment, I have a very, very precise goal of doing well in the 2016 Rio Olympics,” said Lin.
And having shattered multiple world records in Incheon, could she push the bar even higher?
“On breaking the world record again, I am not sure,” she said. “But I have very deep trust in my coaching team.”
“The team has very good coaches with different strategies and good systematic training for each athlete.
“We have medical experts specialising in sports medicine and psychology.
“Those combined forces lead to good results.”