Jinju, Final Day: Bahrain, China and young Korean shine at Asian Championships
Gor Minasyan was in record-breaking form to claim the super-heavyweight title and another two continental records on the final day of the Asian Championships here in Jinju.
Minasyan has made 14 good lifts in 18 attempts for Bahrain and has set Asian records with nine of them. This was also the first sweep of golds in his career.
He was not alone in making his mark – Alireza Yousefi from Iran claimed junior world records in clean and jerk and total.
“Gor is the ultimate professional, so dedicated to his sport, so hard-working – if anybody deserves this it’s him,” said Eshaq Ebrahim Eshaq, President of the Bahrain Weightlifting Federation.
Eshaq, a member of the Asian Weightlifting Federation Executive Board added: “And what a great way to end a great Championships – with the Bahrain national anthem playing.”
Minasyan is second in the Paris 2024 rankings behind the Georgian world record holder Lasha Talakhadze, who will be the only lifter from outside Asia at the top of any of the 10 ranking lists when they are updated after this event.
He improved his first qualifying effort by two kilograms, setting Asian snatch records with lifts number two and three, and the total record with his final clean and jerk.
The large audience, including the VIPs, clapped along to a very loud playing of Boney M’s Rivers of Babylon before Minasyan came out and made his records.
Minasyan, who previously represented Armenia, made five from six and finished on 217-247-464.
The next four finishers were separated by only two kilograms. Rustam Djangabaev was second on 196-241-437, and his Uzbekistan team-mate Akhbar Djuraev finished third on 195-242-437.
Two Iranians were next, snatch silver medallist Ayat Sharifi on 197-239-436 and clean and jerk silver medallist Yousefi with those records in making 190-246-436.
Olympic champion Li Wenwen had her ninth straight victory in the women’s super-heavyweights, and there was significant movement in the Paris rankings from the two Koreans who finished behind her.
Park Hyejeong made six from six for a very impressive 127-168-295, a big improvement on her effort at the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships where she finished eighth on 274kg.
The 20-year-old finished ahead of her training partner and friend Son Younghee, who is 10 years older, on 120-169-289.
“We train together and cheer each other on,” said Park, who took up weightlifting eight years ago after watching YouTube videos of Korea’s 2008 Olympic champion Jang Mi-ran.
“I was too small to watch when Jang won in Beijing, but when I saw the videos I went to the federation and said ‘I want to be a weightlifter’.”
Park, who met her hero when she was still at school, said the preparations for Colombia had not been anywhere as near as good as her training for these Championships.
“My coach made me do less lifting and more exercising, it went very well and I got a lot of compliments from the training team. That gave me more power, and I am very grateful to them.”
Li made 140-175-315 to improve her ranking total by five kilograms. She retired after five good lifts and looked capable of plenty more.
The finishing order here will now be the one-two-three in the Paris rankings.
When Minasyan had made his final lift the tally of world and Asian records at these Championships was 39 in the various age groups, including five senior world records by Chinese athletes Li Dayin, Tian Tao and Liao Guifang.
“We have shown the world again that Asia is the strongest continent in weightlifting, and China the strongest country,” said Yousef Al Mana, President of the Asian Weightlifting Federation who presented Minasyan’s gold medal on total.
“So many records, and such a well-organised competition by hospitable hosts,” added Al Mana, who sits on the IWF Executive Board.
“I would like to invite my fellow Board members at the IWF to come to Asia and see for themselves what we have to offer, and to help promote our sport.
“They are all welcome and I will provide them free accommodation and $1,000 (£803/€918) for their air tickets. We are all one family – please come to Asia and experience the best.”
By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games
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