Common Wealth: Nigerian lifter Nwaokolo wins first gold of CWG 2010

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Nigerian schoolgirl weightlifter Augustina Nwakolo scooped the first gold medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games on Monday, dashing hosts India’s hopes of claiming it for themselves.

The 17-year-old jumped into the arms of her coach to celebrate her victory in the women’s 48kg category, which she nailed with Games records in both the snatch and clean and jerk for a total of 175kg.

Local hopes rested on Soniya Chanu’s shoulders but the pre-event favourite failed to match the Nigerian and had to settle for silver with 167kg ahead of compatriot Sandhya Rani Devi, who managed a combined 165kg.

Devi was tied with Malaysian Zaira Zakaria but clinched bronze on account of her lower bodyweight.

“I knew … I believed I could beat them. I had trained well,” Nigerian national champion Nwakolo, who turns 18 in December, said. “The records … I have done it before.”

The Delhi Games was the first international event for the high school student, Nigerian national weightlifting coach Bassey Patrick told reporters.

“She was ready for every situation, both mentally and physically. We used to train her on different parameters,” Patrick said.

Indian weightlifting coach Harnam Singh apologised to the host nation for the missed gold.

“The failed attempts during the snatch let Soniya down. It was difficult to come back after that. I say sorry to the whole country,” Singh said.

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