Chinese powerlifter Guo Lingling used her first attempt of the day to deliver a message to the rest of the field in the women's under-41 kg powerlifting competition: Silver and bronze were the only two medals up for grabs.
Guo set a Paralympic record on her first attempt and used her third to establish a world record that only lasted until her fourth lift as she cruised to the gold medal at Tokyo International Forum on Thursday.
“I’m very excited," Guo said. "This is the first time I’ve participated in the Paralympic Games, so to break a world record and win this medal for China is very special for me.”
Guo went after the Paralympic record first with a lift of 105 kg after none of her opponents had managed more than 96. She failed in her second attempt at 108, but lifted that weight on her third try to set the world record. The 32-year-old, who had already secured gold, requested a fourth lift and pushed the world record up to 109.
She still felt there was room for improvement, which probably won't make her rivals feel much better.
“I feel a bit of regret, because I think there are things I didn’t do well today," she said. "I’m not happy I was not able to complete my second lift. There are still improvements to make.”
Even so, she delivered a performance to remember.
"She's a good lifter technically as well," said Great Britain's Zoe Newson, a two-time bronze medalist who finished fourth.
Indonesia's Nengah Ni Widiasih earned silver with a top lift of 98 kg and bronze went to Venezuela's Clara Sarahy Fuentes Monasterio, whose best lift was 97 kg.
Widiasih delivered her best lift on her final attempt to move into second place.
“I just tried to focus on myself and do the best I can, like in training. Of course I was so nervous and emotional. Because when I saw it was ‘no lift’ on my second lift, it was hard to keep focus on my third lift. I had to keep telling myself, ‘You can do this. Make a story for Indonesia today.’”
Like many of the other competitors, she was impressed by Guo’s performance.
"She is very strong and amazing, but she also inspires me,” Widiasih said. “From here, I will train even harder because of her.”
Before the women took the stage, Jordan's Omar Sami Hamadeh Qarada won gold in the men's under-49 kg competition.
Qarada earned silver medals at the 2008 and 2016 Games and finally got his gold with successful lifts of 170 and 173.
“It is a dream come true," he said. "But it’s just a stepping stone for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, where I promise you I will set a new world record.”
Vietnam's Le Van Cong, the current world record holder, had successful lifts of 165, 170 and 173 and will leave Tokyo with the silver medal.
“I speak a lot to Le," Qarada said. "He is a friend. In Rio, the same thing happened, we both lifted the same weight on our third lift. But in Rio it was Le stealing my gold medal. Today it was me who was able to steal the gold medal from him.
“Paris 2024 will finally separate us, because I promise to win gold and bring a new world record.”
Le didn't seem concerned about the possibility of being erased from the record book.
"If Omar breaks my record, I will simply win the record back," he said.
The top two medalists finished far ahead of the field. Parvin Mammadov, of Azerbaijan, was third with a top lift of 156 kg.
Japan's Hiroshi Miura was ninth with lifts of 122 and 127.
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