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Mutlu the mighty midget
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 19 - 08 - 2004

Turkey's weightlifter extraordinaire led the early medal winners in Athens
Turkey's weightlifter extraordinaire led the early medal winners in Athens
Turkey's Halil Mutlu became one of a rare breed of triple gold medalists when he took the 56kg weightlifting title in Athens.
The 4ft 11-inch Turk once again outlifted his taller opponents, hosting 135kg in the snatch and 160kg in the clean and jerk for a winning total of 295kg.
China's Wu Meijin was unable to halt Mutlu's nine-year unbeaten run and settled for silver with 287.5kg. Sedat Artuc of Turkey completed the podium, taking the bronze with 280kg.
Mutlu, his career in doubt two years ago following two serious injuries, joined Turkish predecessor Naim Suleymanoglu and Greece's Pyrros Dimas and Khaki Kakiasvilis as three-time weightlifting gold medalists. "I believe I use my heart, my soul and all myself to lift but I believe I am successful because I love weightlifting," said Mutlu, adding that he plans to continue competing until the 2008 Beijing Olympics but will move up a weight division.
Always the showman, Mutlu swaggered onto the stage for his opening lift, squatted, flung the bar above his head then held it there defiantly before letting it drop disdainfully to the floor, offering a sly smile and a wave to the crowd as he exited.
One of only three men to lift three times his own weight, Mutlu sealed the gold on his first attempt in the clean and jerk before finishing the competition with a failed attempt at bettering his own world record.
Udomporn Polsak became the first woman from Thailand to triumph at the Olympics after securing a weightlifting gold in Athens.
Polsak claimed victory in the 53kg class, with Indonesia's Raema Lisa Rumbewas taking silver and Mabel Mosquera of Colombia grabbing bronze. The Thai lifted 97.5kg in the snatch and 125kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 222.5kg.
"I'm glad to be the first to get the gold medal," said Polsak. "I've been training more than 14 years and I've had tremendous support."
Rumbewas ended with a total of 210.5kg, while Mosquera reached 197.5kg.
Turkey's Nurcan Taylan pipped China's Li Zhuo to the first weightlifting gold courtesy of a world record effort in the 48kg class. Nurcan combined a world record 97.5kg in the snatch and 112.5kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 210kg.
Li had been favourite to win but had to settle for silver with a combined total of 205 kg (92.5 and 112.5).
Taylan also earned the honour of becoming the first Turkish woman to win Olympic gold. "Naturally it makes me happy. It is the first victory for a woman and I dedicate it to the Turkish nation," said Taylan, whose snatch added a hefty 4kg to Li's previous world record.
"I stopped the time. It was too long without a gold medal."
Hungary's Timea Nagy retained her Olympic women's epee fencing title after a comfortable 15-10 win over France's Laura Flessel-Colovic.
Nagy lost the first point but then gained control, opening up a three-point lead at 7-4 before easing towards her second gold medal.
The Hungarian revealed she would not be defending her title at Beijing 2008. "I am really happy," said Nagy. "Before the final I was afraid because I have fenced once before against Laura and I lost. But I played very well."
Maureen Nisima of France won the bronze medal by beating another Hungarian, Ildiko Mincza-Nebald, 15-11.
Italy's Aldo Montano landed gold in the men's individual fencing sabre, beating Hungarian Zsolt Nemcsik 15-14 in a thrilling final.
Ukraine's Vladislav Tretiak, a rank outsider, took bronze with a 15-11 win over Dmitri Lapkes of Belarus.
Montano, 25, had to fight back from an early 5- 1 deficit to take the bout which went to the last possible point.
Montano, who beat Lapkes in the semi-finals, took bronze in the world championships in Havana last year.
In swimming, Australia's Petria Thomas clinched gold in the women's 100m butterfly final after holding off defending champion Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands.
Thomas won in 57.72 seconds with Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland second and world record holder de Bruijn in third.
Jedrzejczak finished in 57.84 to pip 30-year-old de Bruijn by 0.15 secs.
France's Laure Manaudou won the women's 400m freestyle from Jedrzejczak, racing in her second final of the session, with Britain's Rebecca Cooke in eighth.
Thomas was delighted with her victory and insisted it was an "awesome feeling. I was lucky enough to be part of the 4x100m freestyle team that won gold last night so it's been a bit of golden start and hopefully the Australian team can keep that going," she said.
The 17-year-old Manaudou clocked a new European record of 4:05.34 and became the first Frenchwoman to win an Olympic swimming gold medal.
Jedrzejczak was second in 4:05.84 and American Kaitlin Sandeno third in 4:06.19.
Cooke's time was 4:11.35 but she is known more for her 800m freestyle performances. "It just didn't flow for me," said Cooke. "Maybe I just tried a bit too hard and maybe my stroke relaxed more than it should have."
The Chinese duo of Tian Liang and Yang Jinhui were impressive winners in synchronised men's platform diving.
Divers Leon Taylor and Peter Waterfield earned Britain's first medal of the Athens Olympics with a brilliant silver in the synchronised 10m diving.
It was the first British diving medal in the Olympics for 44 years.
"It's very sweet. It's not the gold -- which was within our grasp -- but I am ecstatic," Taylor said. "To come out and start off on day one with a silver medal is fantastic."
Waterfield added: "It's not sunk in. I am speechless. We have worked really hard over the last four years for this and it's fantastic.
"It was an amazing feeling and it's really special to win the first British medal of the Games."
In shooting, Russia's Alexei Alipov took gold in the men's trap shooting after a flawless final round.
Alipov was on target with all 25 shots to beat Italy's Giovanni Pellielo into the silver medal position while Australia's Adam Vella took bronze.
In the qualifying rounds, the in-form Alipov equalled the Olympic record.
Ukraine's Olena Kostevych won the gold medal in the women's 10m air pistol event. The 19-year-old beat Jasna Sekaric of Serbia- Montenegro into silver by the narrowest of margins, while Bulgaria's Maria Grozdeva took the bronze.
Kostevych had to edge out Sekaric in a shoot- out after the pair finished level on 483.3 points.
China's Du Li won the first gold medal of the Olympics with victory in the women's 10m air rifle final. World record holder Du said of her success: "It feels unbelievable. It's a very big honour."
The 22-year-old's 502 points, which included an Olympic-record final round of 104, beat Russian Lioubov Galkina and Czech Katerina Kurkova.
China's shooting coach Xu Haifeng has predicted his team will win eight to 10 medals in Athens after taking three golds, two silvers and two bronze medals in Sydney.
Wang Yifu made it a Chinese double when he won gold in the men's 10m air pistol final with the final shot.
Russians Mikhail Nestruev and Vladimir Isakov took the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Trailing the Russian with one shot left, Wang scored a 9.9 to pip his opponent by just 0.2 points in a nerve-shredding finale.
It was a dream result for Wang, who had been pipped for gold in the last two Olympics.


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