She is one of the gold medal hopes of the 19-member strong Australian weightlifting team that has arrived to participate in the Commonwealth Games here. Deborah Acason, winner of the gold medal at the Melbourne Games four years ago and a silver medal in 2002 in the 75kg class, looks a strong contender to win her second successive gold but in the next higher weight category.

The 27-year-old Deborah, who was second to now suspended Indian lifter Shailaja Pujari in Manchester eight years ago, will be moving up to the 75kg plus class since competing at the Beijing Olympics and finishing eighth. However, the Aussie will not find it easy to board the winner's podium on October 10, the day of competitions in this weight class.

A fine year

Going by the recent performances, two women have done well this year. Samoan Ele Opeloge has a total lift of 281kg on May 6 this year at Suva Fiji. The second best is by an Indian, Geeta Rani, who will be defending the gold.

She had the best lift of 235 achieved at Udaipur on February 25 this year. Deborah's 233 on June 26 at Brisbane, does pale before the other two's efforts. Yet the Aussie is very confident and her team projects her as the potential gold winner. She considers Samoan and Nigerian lifters apart from Indians as strong challengers. However, her lesser body weight will be an advantage if the battle boils down to a close one.

Australia will also be represented by a Cambodian, Vannara Be, whose family fled the Khmer Rouge threat three decades ago.

He will be the first Cambodian-born athlete to wear the Aussie colours, green and gold, at the Games.

No looking back

Vannara Be began to train under coach Anthony Dove when he was just 16. Yet, he could not fully commit himself to the sport because he could train only once a week.

When he became an Australian citizen, he began to work out throughout the week. Since then he did not look back.

Vannara Be will be competing in the men's 62 kg class where he will have to take on some of the best lifters like Aricco Jumitih of Malaysia with a total lift of 272 kg, Omkar Shekhar Otari of India with 264 and Rustam Sarang of India with 263 as against his 248 achieved in Melbourne this March.

More In: Other Sports | Sport