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Schoolgirl wins Games first gold

NEW DELHI, October 4- Nigerian schoolgirl Augustina Nwaokolo stunned India's Soniya Chanu to win the women's weightlifting 48kg title on Monday, shattering home hopes of taking the first gold of the Commonwealth Games.

The 17-year-old Nwaokolo set a new Commonwealth record of 175kg after a snatch lift of 77kg and clean and jerk attempt of 98kg.

Chanu took silver with compatriot Sandhya Rani winning bronze as India’s grip on the division ended after Kunjarani Devi had won 48kg gold in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne foue years ago.

After gliding through the opening stage with three confident lifts in the snatch, high school student Nwaokolo then succeeded with 94kg and 98kg in the clean and jerk before failing with 100kg.

But that still left Chanu, the Commonwealth champion, needing to lift 103kg to make up an overall deficit of nine kilos.

However, the pressure of home hopes proved too much for the 30-year-old from Manipur who failed on both of her attempts and despite coming into the Games with a personal best of 175kg, she had to settle for silver with a 167kg total.

Rani had a personal best of 167kg, but she finished on 165kg after failing on a final attempt of 97kg in the clean and jerk.

"There was no pressure on me and I was so happy for what I got," said Chanu.

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"It wasn’t our day. We practiced well, but today we couldn’t do it."

The gold medal was Nigeria’s seventh in a women’s event in Commonwealth Games history, but the first in a sport other than athletics.

"I lifted more weight than this during practice, but today I couldn’t," said Rani.

The result was a devastating blow to Indian hopes in a sport in which they have traditionally excelled at Commonwealth Games level.

At the 2006 Melbourne Games, Indian lifters won nine medals, including three gold while in Manchester, four years earlier, they had bagged 27 medals in total, 12 of them gold.

Australia’s Erika Yamasaki, the bronze medallist in Melbourne four years ago, crashed out after failing three times attempting 88kg in the clean and jerk.

The 23-year-old national champion collapsed to the floor after her failure and was led to the warm-up area in floods of tears.

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