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Jinju, Day 5: China’s Liao takes two world records at Asian Championships

Liao Guifang continued China’s dominance at the Asian Championships here in Jinju (KOR) by breaking two world records and moving to the top of the Paris 2024 rankings.

In winning the women’s 71kg category by 29kg, Liao took Loredana Toma’s snatch world record and then overtook Zhang Wangli’s best total.

Five lifts were enough for Liao, who declined a final attempt at which she might have gone up 5kg for a sweep of world records.

“I will try to go for that record in future and will continue to train hard,” said Liao, 21, afterwards.

All three medallists – Liao, Vanessa Sarno from the Philippines and the B Group lifter Chen Wen-Huei from Chinese Taipei – made huge improvements on their efforts at the first qualifying event in December.

At the IWF World Championships in Bogotá, Colombia Liao was one of several Chinese athletes who underperformed, making only two good lifts for fourth place on 250kg.

“Last time I was not in good shape in my mind,” said Liao, who made 120-148-268 in those five lifts here.

“This time I was not so stressed, I took it easy and treated this competition just like a training session, and it went much better.”

Sarno, the only one of the eight A Group lifters young enough to compete in juniors, put 15kg on her World Championships total by making five from six for 107-132-239.

Chen, who was one of many athletes to bomb out in Colombia, made six from six for 101-131-232, which will put her just outside the top 10 in the rankings.

While Liao improved her ranking total by 18kg her team-mate Zeng Tiantian went the other way, and judging by her entry numbers she has had an injury problem.

After making 253kg in December, which leaves her third in the rankings, Zeng was down 22kg and out of the medals on 102-129-231.

One place behind her was Pham Thi Hong from Vietnam, who took bronze in the snatch and made 103-127-230.

Chinese lifters now sit top of the rankings in all the women’s weight categories for Paris and fill the top two places in three of them, with chances to go further clear this week at 81kg and the super-heavyweights. The good news for the rest of the world is that they cannot send more than three women to Paris.

Iran had its first victory of the week when Hossein Soltani won the men’s 81kg – his first gold medal since he won the Asian junior title at 77kg in 2018.

Soltani failed with his final two attempts but had already won on 154-184-338 ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Sheng-Min. After a remarkable save in the snatch, Chuang retired after one good clean and jerk on 154-180-334.

Yelaman Seitkazy from Kazakhstan won the snatch but missed all three clean and jerk attempts, leaving Korea’s Park Hyeongo to take the bronze on 143-181-324.

Iran’s main focus will be on the three heaviest Olympic categories, in which their main contenders are Kianoush Rostami at 89kg, and Reza Dehdar and the returning 2016 Olympic champion Sohrab Moradi at 102kg.

Their top super-heavyweight Ali Davoudi has recovered from injury but lifts in the IWF Grand Prix in Cuba next month rather than here.

“The men’s team became weak because we had so many problems, which started five years ago with the old federation, but that is finished now and things will be different,” said the Iran Weightlifting Federation’s new president Sajjad Anoushiravani.

“We hope to qualify three men for Paris, and to win three medals.”

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games