News and Media


Durres, Day 7: Kazakhstan teenager wins world title by 64kg and says “I can do better”

A 16-year-old weightlifter from Kazakhstan marked himself out as one to watch in the sport  when he won a youth world title by a massive margin and said, “I can do better than that.”

Nikita Abdrakhmanov was 27kg clear of his nearest rival after the snatch and 64kg clear on total in the men’s 102kg at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Youth Championships in Durres, Albania.

In the other medal event of the day, the women’s 81kg, Shams Mohamed Ahmed (EGY) set a world record on total when she made 103-129-232. Ahmed and second-placed Mariam Murgvliani (GEO) both made six from six and third-placed Emma Poghosyan (ARM) failed only with her final attempt. Murgvliani made 102-127-229 and Poghosyan 98-123-221.

“I am very happy with my performance,” said Ahmed, whose father was a weightlifter, before being interrupted by a call from her sports ministry. Her next competition is likely to be the Arab Championships in her homeland in four months’ time.

Abdrakhmanov’s sweep of golds took Kazakhstan to the top of the medals table – which features 30 of the 57 nations competing here – with one day to go. Poland and Mexico were the latest medal winners.

When he watched a master class display of weightlifting in his home city of Shakhtinsk eight years ago Abdrakhmanov was captivated. He asked his mother to take him to a club and soon knew that he had found not only his sport but his future career.

“This is all I want to do, I love it,” he said. “Weightlifting is the best!”

Asked who his favourite lifters were, Abdrakhmanov said, “Nobody really – I just focus on myself.”

His 164-205-369 earned a second straight youth world title for Abdrakhmanov, who made 348kg last year and celebrated with a big meal – because he had been so nervous in the days before competing he lost his appetite.

There was no sign of nerves in Durres as he made six from six in a performance worth 407 Sinclair points, the highest score of the week in the across-the-weights rating system. His total would place him 17th in the Olympic rankings, where Artyom Antropov is the best  Kazakhstan lifter at 102kg category, in seventh place with a 385kg total.

“I can lift that much in training,” said Abdrakhmanov.

Unlike the highest points scorer in the women’s events, Thanaporn Saetia (THA), Abdrakhmanov will not be heading to the senior Asian Championships next month. His next target is likely to be the Asian Youth and Junior Championships in Delhi in late July.

Saba Adamia (GEO) had a sweep of silvers on 137-168-305, and Marcin Ziolkowski (POL) was third on total with 136-166-302. There was a snatch bronze for Cristian Grijalva (MEX) on 137kg and a clean and jerk bronze for So Ijun (KOR) on 167kg.

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games