TOKYO: China's Hou Zhihui, current world record holder in the lightest women's category, may smash her own record on Saturday (Jul 24) when the Tokyo 2020 weightlifting begins, and take the first gold for her country.
Hou, who holds the world record in snatch with 96kg, is going up against India's Mirabai Chanu, who holds the world record with 119kg in clean and jerk. However, with 213kg in total, Hou holds the world record in that category, too.
There are two Olympic lifts: The clean and jerk, and the snatch. Each athlete is allowed three attempts at each lift. The best lift in each is combined to determine the overall total. Athletes must successfully attempt the snatch before proceeding to the clean and jerk.
Since the Olympic weightlifting competition restricts the number of entries to one athlete per nation in each weight category, China has entered Hou ahead of reigning world champion Jiang Huihua and Zhang Rong, both of whom have lifted more than Chanu's 86kg in snatch.
Chanu, India's only representative in weightlifting, has a personal best of 203kg, and has put forward an entry of 210kg for Saturday's competition.
She's one of India's strongest bets for an Olympic medal this year.
In Rio, Chanu was one of two athletes in her category who didn't register a total, after failing all three of her clean and jerk attempts. She's looking forward to burying the ghosts.
"Since the Rio Olympics, I have evolved a lot. I have worked hard on my technique, especially in snatch. My training methods have changed and I have gotten better. I have worked to bring it at par with my clean and jerk," she said.
Making her Olympic debut, US lifter Jourdan Delacruz, with a total of 200kg this year, is part of the eight-person weightlifting squad, the biggest US weightlifting team for the Olympics in 25 years.
The United States hasn't been a powerhouse in weightlifting since the 1960s. China won the most weightlifting medals at Rio 2016, with Thailand and North Korea also well-represented on the women's podium.
As all three athletes take the stage on Saturday to lift more than one and a half times their bodyweight off the ground, the women's 49kg weightlifting is sure to be an exciting event to watch.