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Riyadh, Day 4: Chen prospers for China while others fail – and Irawan takes silver from B Group

China won gold for the third day in a row when Chen Lijun finished well ahead of everybody else in the men’s 67kg at the IWF World Championships in Riyadh.

Chen made five from five for 153-180-333 and declined his final attempt. Meanwhile everybody else saw red lights – 40 of them compared to 20 whites between the 10 other lifters, none of whom made more than three from six.

Chen Lijun (CHN)

Three failed to make a total, Chen’s team-mate He Yueji and Ferdi Hardal from Turkey in the snatch, and Goga Chkheidze from Georgia in clean and jerk.

That left the way clear for the Indonesian Eko Yuli Irawan to finish second from the B Group on 146-175-321, clear of third-placed Gor Sahakyan by 9kg.

Defending world champion Francisco Mosquera from Colombia was fourth on total, making 135-176-311 from his two good lifts. He took silver in clean and jerk, ahead of the Korean Lee Sangyeon also on 176kg after a 130kg snatch.

Francisco Mosquera (COL)

Irawan, who is on course to become the first weightlifter in history to win a medal at five Olympic Games, equalled his career-best total at this weight in the B Group.

He looked very pleased with his 146-175-321, the same total he made in winning at the IWF Grand Prix in Cuba in June.

It might have been even better for Irawan, who missed his final attempt in the snatch at 150kg after making a career-best 146kg, and also failed with his final clean and jerk at 181kg.

The Armenian 20-year-old Sahakyan, who won the European title in his homeland in April on 320kg, was third behind Chen and Irawan in snatch and finished 142-170-312.

Gor Sahakyan (ARM)

An Olympic gold medallist and an African champion added a touch of quality to the earlier women’s 55kg C Group.

Kuo Hsing-Chun from Chinese Taipei made a six-from-six 101-130-231 and could become the second C Group medallist of the week here, after Aniq Kasdan achieved the feat in the men’s 61kg.

Kuo was well short of her world records – she holds all three at this weight – but was more than pleased with her performance after her preparations were disrupted by injury.

Asked if it was her first career win in a C Group, five-times world champion Kuo laughed and explained why she had made such a low entry total of 210kg.

“I have been injured and was not doing much training two months ago.

“I got up to 90 in snatch and 120 in clean and jerk and I told my coach I should open lower here.

“It worked, because today’s performance was great, my first six-from-six this year. I’m very happy.

“I will be working really hard in the next few weeks before I go to Hangzhou.”

Lee Sangyeon (KOR)

That will be for the Asian Games, where weightlifting starts on September 30. Kuo won in the old 58kg category at the last Asian Games in Indonesia.

Kuo’s 231kg was only 1kg lower than her best effort in qualifying for Paris 2024, despite her recent fitness problems.

Two other totals in the C Group were high enough to make the top 10 in qualifying, Rafiatu Lawal’s 100-125-225 and Anyelin Venegas’s 95-124-219.

The Nigerian Lawal sped through her lifts, missing only the last one and improving by 8kg her career best, which she had set in winning the African title in May.

It was still not enough for Lawal and she was almost in tears as she left the platform after missing her final attempt.

“I wanted more,” she said. “I’ve improved my clean and jerk and I know I can do better.”

Lawal had trained hard alongside her team-mate Adijat Olarinoye, who also lifted in the C Group and made a career best 95-120-215.

Both won Commonwealth Games gold last year, Lawal at 59kg and Olarinoye at 55kg.

“They push each other in training, they are both hungry to qualify,” said coach Aduche Ojadi, a double Olympian.

Venegas, from Venezuela, had made totals between 208kg and 212kg in all of her seven competitions in the past four years but this time she was much higher on 219kg despite missing three times.

That would have put her ninth in qualifying, although with two sessions to come there will be plenty more changes. The rankings will be updated a few days after the end of these Championships.

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia