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Irawan (INA) is ready for a fifth Olympic medal!

At 34, Eko Yuli Irawan is an Indonesian hero and for sure one of the most successful lifters in history. He has no Olympic gold, but one medal in each of the four Games he entered. If he qualifies for Paris (it won’t be very difficult in his case), and if he reaches the podium in the French capital, he will be the only athlete in this sport to have medalled in five editions of the Olympic showcase. On the fourth day of the IWF World Championships in Riyadh, Irawan, competing in the 67kg, was largely better than the rest of the field in the… B session. With a total of 146-175-321 (equalling his personal best in this category), he ended up getting two silver medals in this event (snatch and total).

Irawan started his international career in 2006, when he got the silver at the IWF World Junior Championships, in the 56kg category. His total at the time: 269kg. He progressed quite quickly, and two years later, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (CHN), he got the bronze in 288kg. And the achievements go on, with successful appearances in London 2012 (also third, with 317kg, this time in the 62kg), Rio 2016 (silver, 312kg), and Tokyo 2020ne (runner-up in the 61kg, with 302kg). Between these highlights, the Indonesian lifter has also amassed several medals at the World and continental level. At the IWF showcase, his only victory came in 2018, when he lifted 143-174-317 in the 61kg.

Going to Paris, Irawan appears twice in the Olympic ranking, both in the 61kg and 67kg category. He is clearly best in the lighter one – his “natural” weight –, where he is the third best so far (300kg, from his silver performance at the IWF Worlds in Bogota), after China’s Li (314kg) and Italy’s Massidda (302kg, at yesterday’s final of the event in Riyadh). In the 67kg, he equalled his best of 321kg, which is clearly not enough to guarantee the presence in the top-10 (the cut is at 332kg).

After his final lift in Saudi Arabia, he was obviously satisfied with the outcome, but clarified that he will be back to the 61kg category, most “probably in time for the IWF Grand Prix in Qatar, in December”. On the competition in Saudi Arabia, Irawan “enjoyed it a lot. All the conditions are perfect, the organisation is very good and the athletes feel comfortable here”.

On the Olympic prospects, he is also optimistic: “I’ll of course go for the 61kg. I think the qualification is guaranteed. If I can lift 310-315 in Paris, I think I have many chances of getting a medal. It would be quite amazing and incredible. I am working hard to reach the right level and all indicators are positive. The preparation is going quite well and we remain optimistic,” he declares.

Suffering from a “minor problem” in his left knee, the Indonesian star confessed that his last clean and jerk attempt at 181kg “was a bit too much – it proved too heavy for my physical condition today”.

After this short interview, he came back, a couple of hours later, to the podium, after the conclusion of the A session – to collect two more medals for his outstanding collection! And the story is far from being over.

By Pedro Adrega, IWF Communications

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia