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September 26, 2017

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Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun breaks world record

Before the Taipei Universiade kicked off, Chinese Taipei weightlifting heavyweight Kuo Hsing-chun said repeatedly that she would "not only try to take gold at the Universiade, I will also break my own meet record." Last night, she did just that, lifting 107 kg in the snatch and 142 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 249 kg, giving her the women's 58-kg gold. It was a transcendent moment, as she not only broke the Universiade record but, more importantly, broke the world record on home soil as she lifted the 142 kg with ease.

Despite fellow host team gold medalist hopeful Hsu Shu-ching having withdrawn before the games and with Rio Games champion Srisurat Sukanya from Thailand competing, the venue was swamped with supporters cheering Kuo on. Neither they nor Kuo left disappointed. At the moment after breaking the world record, Kuo shed tears of joy and excitedly hugged her coach Lin Geng-neng as the frenzied cheers from the crowd reverberated around her.

"I thought that competing on home soil would be very stressful, but I was much more relaxed than I imagined I would be," Kuo said afterward. She had shown remarkable dominance at the start of the event, lifting weights heavier than those of her Thai and North Korean rivals. She kept ahead of them throughout, being successful in every one of her six attempts and never being deterred. That determination was the key to Kuo's rewriting of the record set by China's Qiu Hongmei — a record that had stood for a decade.

Yesterday's result was the culmination of a roller-coaster few years for Kuo, who performed greatly in 2013 only to sustain a serious injury at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. Although she recovered and competed at the Rio Olympics, she was unable to completely overcome the mental stress she was facing, taking bronze. It was an event that Lin described as Kuo's "biggest loss" since he started coaching her — a loss that was enough to keep him up at night. But Rio proved to be a growing experience for Kuo.

"This time, (we're) here to break the world record!" Lin had said before yesterday's event. His words exhibited great confidence — confidence that came from seeing the progress of his protege, who made good on her coach's vow. Kuo said that she "knew the Rio Olympics gold medalist would come, but I believed my goal was not to defeat her. I wanted to break the meet record, and I also hoped to shatter the world record at home. My only opponent was myself."

In the other categories yesterday, North Korea showed exceeding prowess, taking four weight-class gold medals. However, Kim Myong Hyok's bid to continue his dominance of the men's 69-kg weight class was shut down by Ukraine's Albert Linder, who broke Universiade records in the clean and jerk, with 185 kg, and in the UR for total points, with 333 kg.

"I'm very happy to win the gold. I gave my all to lift my best score," he said. The 21-year-old was able to lift only 148 kg in the snatch and fell behind Kim's UR score of 153 kg. But this only energized him, and Linder went on to break the clean and jerk record and clinch the gold. After the event, he said through a translator that "at my best, I could lift 190 kg and I will challenge the entire world in the future."

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