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Yerevan, Day 2: “I saw angels” says Romania’s second champion at European Championships

A few minutes before Andreea Cotruta won Romania’s second title of the weekend at the European Weightlifting Championships in Yerevan, Armenia she was flat on her back after passing out.

When she went for her second clean and jerk in the women’s 55kg, 19-year-old Cotruta cleaned it but collapsed before she could try and complete the lift.

What happened?

“I just don’t know,” she said.

“I saw angels, I saw people flying around the hall and I fell.”

The duty doctor rushed on to the stage but Cotruta was soon up on her feet and heading to the warm-up room.

She had only a minute to recover for her final attempt at 110kg but was thinking, “I am not going to fail, I will make this lift,” she said.

Cotruta drank plenty of water, had a few slaps from her coach to bring her back to the real world, went out and made the lift with no angels in sight.

Her 91-110-201 equalled her career best but could still be beaten if the Ukrainian Svitlana Samuliak made her final attempt at 112kg.

Sauliak failed, and Romania had its second winner in two days after the success at 49kg on Saturday of Cotruta’s favourite lifter, Mihaela Cambei.

Samuliak made 90-109-199 and Izabella Yaylyan earned plenty of cheers from her home fans when she won Armenia’s first medals of the weekend, a sweep of bronzes on 87-109-196.

Cotruta’s success meant that Romania was on the podium in all the first four events of the Championships, three for women and one for men.

There was a sensational finish in the men’s 61kg when the two contenders for the title both made big jumps on their final attempt – and both made them.

Sergio Massidda from Italy missed two of his snatches and his first clean and jerk, and with one attempt left he had to make up 8kg to take the lead from Shota Mishvelidze from Georgia.

Massidda, 21, made it and looked the likely winner given that Mishvelidze had made 155kg in clean and jerk in his past five competitions at this weight, and was sitting on 155kg with one lift to come.

Mishvelidze, 28, had to go up 7kg to 162kg and he also made it, fairly comfortably.

Asked whether he had believed he would do it he said, “Yes, I was confident because this time I was not suffering any injury.”

He has had surgery on his shoulder, elbow and knee and now he is clear of problems and fully fit.

Mishvelidze made five good lifts for 136-162-298, a career best at 61kg.

Massidda made 130-162-292 and third place went to Ivan Dimov of Bulgaria on 127-150-277, with his team-mate Gabriel Marinov taking clean and jerk bronze on 154kg after failing with all three snatches.

After the men’s 55kg Angel Rusev stood down from the podium clasping his medals and shouting, “Three times European champion!”

The ultra-consistent 21-year-old Bulgarian has made totals between 250kg and 258kg seven times in his 10 competitions as a senior, three of which won him continental titles.

Rusev, Europe’s top finisher at this weight in sixth place at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Bogotá, Colombia in December declined his final attempt after making 109-141-250 to complete the hat-trick.

The man he beat into second place looked just as happy as Rusev, which was not surprising given that it was the first time on the podium for Ramini Shamishvili from Georgia, after 12 years as an international weightlifter.

“Yes, it was a long wait – there are no words to describe how I feel,” said Shamishvili, 28, who had finished between fourth and eighth place in seven European Championships before today.

All those efforts came at a heavier weight, either 61kg or 62kg, and the hard work to try at 55kg paid off.

“I didn’t eat, more sauna, more training – it was very hard but I always trusted in myself that I could win a medal and now I will keep working to win more medals in the future,” he said.

Would he be celebrating with a big meal?

“Oh yes,” he laughed.

Shamishvili made 113-136-249 for snatch gold, clean and jerk bronze and silver on total, ahead of the Romanian Valentin Iancu on 109-136-245.

Muammer Sahin from Turkey took silver in the snatch, in which Rusev was fourth best but clearly happy with 109kg, celebrating as if he knew he would go on to win overall.

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games

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