LOS ANGELES -- When Guy Carlton showed his daughter Jeannie his Olympic weightlifting medal, she did what any 9-month-old baby would do -- she tried to take a bite out of it.
'She's checking to see if it's real,' said Carlton, who came out of Decatur, Ill., to give the United States its first weightlifting medal, a bronze, in these Olympic Games. 'I kind of wondered that myself.'
Carlton wound up with third place when he spurned an almost sure shot at the silver to try for what would have been America's first Olympic gold in weightlifting in 24 years by trying to lift more weight than he has ever lifted.
When he failed, the gold went to Norberto Oberburger of Italy - giving that nation its first Olympic weightlifting medal in 60 years - and the silver to Stefan Tasnadi of Romania, giving that country its eighth weightlifting of this Olympics. China has won six in the first four days of competition.
The 10 days of Olympic weightlifting ends tonight with the competition of 'super-heavyweights,' those weighing more than 242 pounds (110 kg).
Dean Lukin of Australia is the favorite, but Mario Martinez of San Francisco is a definite threat since the Soviets, who claim the top seven 'super-heavyweights' in the world, stayed at home.
Carlton said he tried for the 496-pound (225 kg) clean and jerk he needed on his final lift to surpass Oberburger, 'because all my life I've dreamed of winning a gold medal.
'I was thinking of my wife, Jan, and my little girl, Jeannie, and hoping to win it for both of them and my country also.'
Trailing by 16.5 pounds (7.5 kg) after the opening snatch portion of the competition Tuesday night, Carlton began the clean and jerk at 452 pounds (205 kg), lifted 463 pounds (210 kg) on his second try -- then went for broke when he realized he had sure of a bronze and had a chance for gold.
'Guy has cleaned 220 kilos (485 pounds) and jerked 235 (518 pounds) off a stand,' said U.S. Coach Harvey Newton. 'But he never put that much all together, although we feel he might have if everything had gone right.'
'My first attempt (in the clean and jerk) was to get me in the ball game, the second for a medal, and the third for the Gold,' said Carlton, who added he won't be able to stay in competitive weightlifting unless he gets a job that combines weightlifting with earning a living.
'My jobs have gotten continually worse ever since I came out of high school,' said Carlton, who is 30 years old. 'I can't ask my family to go through the next four years what I've gone through the past eight.'
Oberburger, 24, a student from Merano, Italy, who has yet to see his 3-day-old daughter, credited the absence of the Soviets for his success.
'In the European Games, I came in second place,' he noted. 'There was always Russian superiority, especially with (Yuri) Zacharevich being a threat and other Russian weightlifters.'
And as for Carlton going for the Gold, Oberburger said, 'If he had made it, he was definitely stronger than me and would have deserved it.'
Tasnadi, a 31-year-old shoe factory worker in Cluj, Romania, announced his retirement from competitive weightlifting.
'This was my last contest,' said Tasnadi. 'The silver medal was the last I needed to complete my collection.'