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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 14:12 GMT
Chinese set to lift their nation
Chinese weightlifter Liu Chunhong
Chinese weightlifters won five gold medals at the Athens Olympics
China will expect its weightlifters to dominate on home soil following strong performances in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Chinese competitors have taken almost half the top honours available at weightlifting world championships since Athens, claiming 22 of the 45 gold medals on offer.

At the 2007 World Championships, held in September, China took seven gold medals - as many as their nearest five competitors combined.

Russia, Belarus and Bulgaria, who all won 2007 World Championship golds, were in the top group of nations to qualify for the men's weightlifting at Beijing.

This means they, along with hosts China, can send six weightlifters to the Games.

A total of 28 nations have now booked places, with events for each continent due to take place next spring to determine the remaining qualifying countries.

606: DEBATE
OlympicDragons
Individual men's weightlifters can still secure places after that, with eight spots on offer to competitors whose nations did not qualify but whose ranking is sufficient, and six further invitational places to be awarded.

In women's weightlifting, the names of qualified nations are similar, with China, Russia and Belarus again at the top of the list.

The US women's team have performed significantly better than their male counterparts to finish in the top qualifying group.

Female weightlifters can rely on fewer individual qualifying places, with seven based on rankings and four wild card invites available.

British weightlifting has gone more than 20 years without an Olympic medal.

Michaela Breeze chalks her hands in Melbourne
Michaela Breeze took gold at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games
David Mercer, who took bronze in the 94kg men's competition at Los Angeles in 1984, was Team GB's last weightlifting medallist.

Welsh PE teacher Michaela Breeze was one of two British competitors to reach Athens in 2004, and is currently ranked 13th in the 63kg class.

She won gold at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, having finished ninth at the last Olympics.

At the recent IWF World Cup, only two British lifters achieved ranking places.

Joanne Calvino, who finished fourth in the 53kg women's event, was ranked 79 in the world at the end of 2006.

And Gurbinder Cheema, who finished third in the 105kg men's event, started the year ranked 63 in the world.



SEE ALSO
Beginner's guide to weightlifting
02 Jul 07 |  Weightlifting


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