Doha, Day 2: Jiang turns tables on PRK world record holder before heading to Paris with Team China
Jiang Huihua enjoyed singing her national anthem after making a career-best total in winning the women’s 49kg on day two of the IWF Grand Prix II in Doha.
Nine weeks ago Jiang, who leads the Olympic rankings at this weight, had been beaten into second place by Ri Song Gum, who set two world records in her total of 216kg at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. That was the first of several victories for DPR Korea that led China’s head coach Wang Guoxin to declare: “We are no longer number one. Now PRK is ahead of us and we need to catch up.”
Jiang Huihua (CHN)
Jiang turned the tables on Ri at the Aspire Zone in Doha, making all six attempts for 96-120-216. Ri failed twice in clean and jerk and made 93-120-213, ahead of Jiang’s team-mate and Olympic champion Hou Zhihui on 96-113-209.
“I was very excited to stand on the podium, to see our flag and sing our anthem,” said Jiang. “DPRK did perform very well at the Asian Games. Since then we have prepared really well, worked very hard and encouraged each other.”
The next stop for Jiang and her team-mates, along with a large group of coaches and support staff, is Paris. Team China will fly direct from Doha to France for a week’s training camp and acclimatisation, which will include a visit to the Athletes Village for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in July-August.
“I’m really looking forward to the training camp. I’ve never been to France and it will be good to see it and get used to the conditions,” she said.
That seems sure to be the first of two visits for Jiang. Her place at the top of the rankings can realistically be challenged only by Hou, whose best total in qualifying is 5kg lower. PRK athletes are not eligible.
Jiang, up 1kg on her best total, could have been overtaken if Hou or Ri had made world record attempts on 121kg and 124kg respectively, but both failed.
Four others improved their best qualifying totals. Katherin Echandia from Venezuela was up 8kg in making 84-106-190. Rosegie Ramos from the Philippines was up by 3kg despite missing her last two lifts, on 88-103-191, a 21kg improvement on her 2022 World Championships total a year ago. Giulia Imperio from Italy made only her openers but 85-100-185 was a 2kg improvement, while Dahiana Ortiz from Dominican Republic is now only 1kg behind team-mate Beatriz Piron after her 82-108-190.
Ri Song Gum (PRK)
Jourdan Delacruz missed two snatch attempts and the USA coaching team decided it was best for her to withdraw from clean and jerk to save her legs. There were no medical concerns.
Another PRK lifter was close to a world record. Won Hyon Sim got two white lights for her 86kg snatch attempt in the 45kg A Group, but the jury overturned it for bending and extending her arms. Won made 82-99-181 to finish clear of Rosegie’s sister Rose Jean Ramos, her only rival, on 70-85-155.
The men’s 61kg B group featured two athletes who are hoping to be among the medal contenders in Paris, 34-year-old Eko Yuli Irawan from Indonesia, an Olympic medallist four times already, and the American teenager Hampton Morris.
Eko Yuli Irawan (INA)
Irawan will need recovery time after he ended a busy spell with his second successive bombout, having gone 17 years without one. He had icepacks on his knees at the end of the session.
In the past seven months Irawan, 34, has won at the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia and the IWF Grand Prix I in Cuba, finished second at the World Championships, and bombed out at the Asian Games in China in September. This second straight failure came after he had snatched 136kg.
Morris, second at 67kg at the World Junior Championships in Mexico 17 days ago, made two attempts to better the junior world record in clean and jerk. Although he failed both times on 174kg, and missed two snatches, his 122-170-292 moved him up into the top ten of the Paris rankings.
Losing weight in a short time had not been a problem, said Morris, who has been making big numbers in training. “I was actually about 64kg in Mexico,” he said. “It was a very gradual calory deficit over a few weeks.”
Thailand’s 2022 world champion at 55kg, Theeraphong Silachai, also opted to lift in the B Group, finishing well below his best on 123-155-278.
Another disappointed athlete in this session was Muhamad Aznil from Malaysia, who bombed out in the snatch for a third time in his career. Aznil, twice a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was 17th in the extended rankings (more than one athlete per nation) before today, two places and 1kg behind his team-mate Muhamad Aniq.
While Aznil failed to make a total and stays on 290kg, Aniq hit career-best numbers in the preceding C Group on 126-170-296, outperforming everybody in the B Group and moving into seventh place before Wednesday’s A Group. The two “are good friends who push each other to do better,” said Malaysia’s coach Edmund Yeo.
Malaysia has no other contenders for Paris. Aznil and Aniq will go to a training camp in either Indonesia or China for a month before a final head-to-head qualifying showdown at the IWF Grand Prix in Thailand in April. “We will then be preparing our back-up squad again, looking towards the next Commonwealth Games,” said Yeo.
By Brian Oliver