LONDON – Weightlifter Hiromi Miyake captured the silver medal in the women’s 48-kg class at the London Olympics on Saturday, going one better than her father who won bronze at the 1968 Mexico Games.
Miyake lifted a national-record total of 197 kg and became the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic weightlifting medal. China’s Wang Mingjuan took the gold with 205 kg, and the bronze went to Ryang Chun Hwa of North Korea at 192 kg.
Miyake, who finished ninth in her Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games and sixth in Beijing four years later, hoisted a national record-tying 83 kg in her first snatch attempt and broke it with 85 kg and then 87 kg.
In the clean and jerk, the diminutive 26-year-old tied her own national record of 110 kg in her second effort.
“This feels like a dream,” said Miyake, who claimed bronze at the 2006 world championships.
“It hasn’t hit home yet. I have been aiming for a medal for 12 years. I was just focused on bettering my own record, but I never thought that I would be able to get a medal. I am glad I went one better than my father (Yoshiyuki), who won the bronze,” she said.
Olympic debutant Honami Mizuochi, the other Japanese in the field, placed sixth with a total of 176 kg.
Wang dominated to win gold for China in the first weightlifting event at the London Games.
“I hope this medal will provide encouragement for the rest of the team,” she said.
She snatched 91 kg and lifted 114 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 205 kg.
China is expected to top the weightlifting medal standings in London, although it’s facing stiffer competition than in Beijing four years ago, when Chinese competitors won eight of the nine categories they entered.
Wang is unbeaten in international competitions and was selected by the Chinese coaches for the Olympics despite finishing second to Tian Yuan in the national championships this year.
Asked why she thought China had become such a powerhouse in women’s weightlifting, Wang had a short answer. “Because our country is really strong,” she said, smiling confidently.
After failing her first snatch — a lift performed in one continuous motion — Wang comfortably cleared her second and third attempts to head into the clean and jerk with a 4-kg advantage over Miyake.
She sealed the win by hoisting 114-kg in her second clean and jerk, a two-part lift in which the bar is lifted to shoulder height before being pushed overhead. Seeking to improve her margin of victory, she failed her final attempt at 116 kg.
China could increase its medal tally Sunday. Double world champion Wu Jingbiao is the favorite in the men’s 56-kg category, while 17-year-old Zhou Jun has a shot at reaching the podium in the women’s 53-kg class.