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Records tumble as Long beats Om at last

By Brian Oliver at Riocentre, Rio de Janeiro
China suffered a rare failure in the women’s 53kg but more than made up for
it when Long Qingquan broke the oldest total world record in weightlifting
to beat PRK’s Om Yun-Chol in a sensational night session at Riocentro.

A noisy crowd jumped and cheered as Om made his final attempt at 169kg to
break the clean & jerk record at 56kg and take the lead from Long. They
roared even louder when Long, the 2008 Olympic champion, hoisted 170kg with
the final lift of the night to take the gold medal. He became the first
weightlifter, male or female, to win titles eight years apart.

Long joined Om in the elite group of seven menwho have lifted three times
their own bodyweight. He beat Halil Mutlu’s world record of 305kg set at
Sydney 2000 – the oldest world record for a total, having been set 10 days
before Hossein Reza Zadeh’s +105kg best. Long, who totalled 307kg, also
became the only man to defeat Om since the 2012 Olympic Games.

After winning in London four years ago, Om had competed in seven major
competitions, including three IWF World Championships, and won them all.
Long, at 25 a year older than Om, had finished behind him four times.

Long and Om are the only weightlifters currently able to lift three times
what they weigh, and the only Asians ever to have done it.

Asked if this made them the world’s strongest men Long said, “Among human
being yes, we are the strongest. But not in the animal kingdom – remember
how strong an ant is!” Om, smiling despite his defeat, said, “The strongest
man is the one sitting next to me. I congratulate him.”

Thach Kim Tuan of Vietnm had stood below Om on the podium five times and
was expected to take the bronze medal, but he failed with all three clean &
jerk attempts. That let in the 20-year-old Thai Kruaithong Sinphet for
third place, 18kg behind Long.

Four records were set in all – Long’s world and Olympic total of 307kg, his
Olympic best of 170kg in the clean & jerk, and just before that Om’s 169kg
Olympic best clean & jerk.

In the women’s 53kg earlier, Hsu Shu-ching won a gold medal for Taipei and
consigned China to a humbling defeat. She also earned a lot of prize money
in the process.

Hsu finished second at London 2012 but the winner, Zulfiya Chinshanlo,
tested positive in a recent reanalysis of samples and is supended.

Although Chinshanlo is Chinese she switched nationality to Kazakhstan, the
nation with the worst doping record in weightlifting in recent years. Her
title is likely to be taken from her when the legal process is complete and
Hsu will be promoted to first place.

“I hope that happens soon, and the silver turns to gold,” she said. Taipei
rewards its Olympic medallists well and the promotion would earn Hsu about
$140,000. The prize for winning in Rio would take her total Olympic
earnings to around $700,000.

“If I get this money it will be my pension for life, and I will give some
to my family,” she said.

Hsu, 25, had expected a strong challenge from China’s Li Yajun but it never
happened. Li missed all three clean & jerk attempts and became only the
second Chinese female weightlifter ever to fail to register a total. The
first, Zhou Jun in London four years ago, was also a 53kg athlete.

Hsu had suffered a string of serious injuries and did not compete for two
years after the London Games. She had a cervical herniated disc, a leg
injury and tendinitis. She knows plenty about injuries, as she is about to
graduate in sports medicine.

Because of Li’s failure Hidilyn Diaz moved from fifth after the snatch to
second overall, winning a first weightlifting medal for the Philippines.

Yoon Jin Hee of Korea took the bronze, but it might have gone to the
18-year-old Latvian Rebekah Koha. On her first snatch attempt Koha’s coach
changed her weight by 2kg, but the clock restarted with 35seconds to go and
Koha was timed out. She then made two good lifts and looked capable of more
– and finished only 2kg behind Yoon.

“I could have been third, but everyone is happy for me,” said Koha, whose
next big championship will be the European Juniors in Israel in December.
“I have learned that I must be calm and patient.”