It's 'Becks with pecs' as Chinese weightlifter shines

  • Agence France-Presse, PTI, Busan
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 03, 2002 11:03 IST

Just call Le Maosheng the 'David Beckham of Chinese weightlifting.'

The 23-year-old Le sports a mohican-style haircut similar to that made famous by England football captain Beckham.

Le, who set a new world record on his way to defending his Asian Games men's weightlifting title on Wednesday, told AFP that the comparison was often made between him and Beckham because of his hair-style.

"People ask me a lot about my hair," said Le. "I did not follow any trend - I had this hair style a year before David Beckham."

His distinctive hair cut, boyish good looks and gold medal winning talent have brought Le quick recognition here.

As he was waiting for a bus to the athletes village after his weightlifting win, Le was surrounded by admiring female students eager to shake his hand.

Handsome sportsmen, like South Korea's World Cup star Ahn Jung-Hwan, are hugely popular in the country and live television coverage of the weightlifting gave Le vast exposure.

The Chinese was not expected to win gold or go near the world record but the failure of compatriot Shi Zhiyong put him in the spotlight.

Shi, the world record holder in the snatch, crashed out of the 62kg division when he failed to lift 150kg.

Le then went head to head with North Korea's Im Yong-Su for the gold medal.

Pressure from the North Korean pushed Le into attempting a world record weight of 182.5k and he responded magnificently to the challenge.

"It was not planned for me to go for a world record but the North Korean pushed the weight higher," said Le, who pulled a muscle in his right arm during the competition.

"I had lifted 182.5kg in practice so I knew it was possible."

Le presented China with their second straight gold in the mens division after Wu Meijin's confident display in the 56kg class on Tuesday. Wu lifted 10kg heavier than ever before to take top spot.

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