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Weightlifting

Thai's name change becomes fortunate decision

August 11, 2008
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BEIJING - Weightlifter Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon of Thailand gave a fortune teller part of the credit for her Olympic gold medal yesterday.

Jaroenrattanatarakoon, who changed her name last year, won the women's 53-kilogram category with a total of 221 kilograms (486.2 pounds) and set an Olympic record in the clean and jerk.

The Thai lifter, who used to be known as Junpim Kuntatean, said a fortune teller told her to change her name last year to improve her luck, and it seems to have worked.

"I changed the name because I wanted to win the Olympic Games," Jaroenrattanatarakoon said. "I don't know if you believe in fortune tellers, but she said that if I change my name I will win gold."

She was tied with Natassia Novikava of Belarus after the snatch, but clinched the win with her first clean and jerk at 120 kilograms, a weight that no one was able to match. Melanie Roach of Bonney Lake, Wash., set an American record with 193 kilograms, finishing in sixth place.

After Jaroenrattanatarakoon set the Olympic record in her second attempt, she went for a world record clean and jerk in her third lift. But 126 kilograms was too much, and she gave up halfway through the lift, laughing.

"I don't mind that I didn't get the record. I just wanted a medal," she said.

Jaroenrattanatarakoon didn't fit on the digital scoreboard, so it was simply abbreviated as "J." According to Thai weightlifting, the first name roughly translates to "good girl," while the surname means "prosperous." (AP)

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