‘Hercules’ Jang calls time on career

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Updated 11 January 2013
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‘Hercules’ Jang calls time on career

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea’s Jang Mi-ran bid an emotional farewell to weightlifting after a decorated 15-year career when the ‘Female Hercules’ announced her retirement at news conference in her hometown yesterday.
The 29-year-old, accompanied by her father, mother and younger sister, struggled to deliver a tearful speech as she said goodbye to a sport that had rewarded her efforts with four world titles, as well as Olympic and Asian Games success.
“After much consideration for the past three months, I have come to the most difficult decision any athlete must face,” she told reporters in the city of Goyang, north of Seoul.
“Weightlifting turned a 15-year-old girl, who had no confidence in her appearance and no dreams for the future, into (someone) who ended up being loved by so many.
“I am happy that a growing number of people have more positive opinions of weightlifting because of me.” Jang’s crowning moment came when she completed a ‘grand slam’ with the 2010 Asian Games title in Guangzhou in the over 75kg class, following up her success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a quartet of world championship victories.
At her peak in her triumphant Olympic year, Jang set world records in the snatch (140kg), clean and jerk (186kg) and for the overall weight lifted (326kg).
However, age and injuries took their toll in recent years and the South Korean struggled to keep pace with emerging lifters such as Tatiana Kashirina of Russia and China’s Zhou Lulu.
Last year, her dreams of earning a third straight Olympic medal, she also won a bronze at Athens in 2004, were dashed in London when she could only finish fourth.
The quietly spoken Jang touched the hearts of many of her compatriots when she knelt and kissed the barbell following her final failure, knowing a medal was out of reach.
“The London Olympics is the most memorable moment in my entire career since I never realized until then that so many people were still rooting for me even though I failed to live up to their expectations.” In her post-retirement years, Jang said she would focus on helping young athletes in weightlifting and other fringe sports through the Jang Mi-ran Foundation, which she set up last February.

She also wants to become involved in the International Olympics Committee and will meet IOC President Jacques Rogge when he visits Korea at the end of the month.
“I think being an IOC member will help many things I want to pursue with my foundation,” she added.


Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

Updated 25 min 18 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

  • Saudi Arabia play Italy on May 28
  • Balotelli set to play for the Azzurri for the first time in four years

TURIN: New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday recalled Nice striker Mario Balotelli to the Azzurri fold for three upcoming friendlies as he begins the job of reviving Italian fortunes.
Mancini was appointed last Monday, six months after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked following the four-time world champions’ failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The 53-year-old, who left Zenit Saint Petersburg to take the job, unveiled his first 30-man squad for matches against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands.
Mancini takes charge of his first game against the Green Falcons in St. Gallen, Switzerland on May 28.
As expected, the 27-year-old Balotelli was included for the first time in nearly four years.
Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not played international football since Italy’s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.
Balotelli was last called up by coach Antonio Conte in November 2014 but did not play because of injury.
He has now been given another chance by Mancini, who coached him at both Inter Milan and Manchester City.
Balotelli has resurrected his career since joining Nice in 2016 after less successful spells with AC Milan and Liverpool, scoring 26 goals in all competitions this season, without any of the bad-boy behavior that previously dogged his career.
Italy are not spoilt for choice with forward so Balotelli’s success with Nice could not be overlooked by Mancini.
As a youngster, Balotelli was part of the Inter side coached by Jose Mourinho that won the Champions League in 2010.
He also won three Serie A titles with Inter before switching to Manchester City and helping them claim the Premier League crown in 2012.
Meanwhile, Mancini’s squad was without goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon who this week confirmed he would not play again for the national side.
The presence of Buffon — who holds the record for Italy caps with 176 — proved controversial during friendlies in March with his critics wanting him to move over for a younger generation.
In his absence, Mancini has recalled Salvatore Sirigu, who has had a successful season since joining Torino, alongside AC Milan teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma and Genoa’s Mattia Perin.
Among the veterans there was no call-up for Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini absent through injury.
The captain’s armband is expected to go to AC Milan center-back Leonardo Bonucci.
Five players have been given a first call-up — Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora, Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi and Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara.
Along with defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani, midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and strikers Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are among the promising youngsters who are expected to put Italy back on the road to victory.
The squad will meet for the first time at the Italian national team’s training camp at Coverciano near Florence on May 23.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri Dos Santos (Chelsea/ENG), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice/FRA), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia/ESP)