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Doha, Day 3: Two more wins for PRK, and progress in Paris rankings for Philippines, Malaysia and USA

Two more wins for DPR Korea, 11 different medallists in two events, an Olympic champion withdrawing when in the lead and a bombout by a multiple world record holder were among the highlights on day three of the IWF Grand Prix in Qatar.

The C Group lifter Mohamad Aniq from Malaysia finished third in the men’s 61kg, in which five of the top 10 lifted yesterday in B and C sessions. John Ceniza from the Philippines was the only A Group lifter to make an improvement on his best total in the Paris 2024 rankings.

John Ceniza (PHI)

“I am really so happy with that, second place and two kilos more in qualifying,” said Ceniza, who is aiming to become the first male lifter from the Philippines to lift at the Olympic Games in decades.

Pak Myong Jin from PRK was the only one of 23 athletes over two days to better 300kg on total. He made 134-171-305 to win ahead of Ceniza on 133-165-298. Aniq, third on 126-170-296, will be in the top ten when the rankings are updated.

Pak Myong Jin (PRK)

The gold and silver medallists in snatch failed to make a total. Olympic champion Li Fabin from China, who led at halfway on 137kg, withdrew with his left elbow heavily strapped. Eko Yuli Irawan, who bombed out in clean and jerk in the B Group, was second on 136kg, ahead of Pak.

Pak won the clean and jerk, Aniq was second and the American teenager Hampton Morris, who also moved into the top ten, was third on 170kg. Morris, fifth on total on 292kg, was the only athlete from outside Asia in the top eight.

Hampton Morris (USA)

Ricko Saputra from Indonesia, who has lifted in all five qualifiers to date, failed three times in clean and jerk as he tried in vain to make ground on team-mate Irawan in the extended rankings. Another who failed to make a total was Trinh Van Vinh from Vietnam, who bombed out in the snatch.

Aleksandra Grigoryan (ARM)

The women’s 55kg featured a rare bombout by a world record holder and career-best totals for two teenagers who competed at the World Junior Championships less than three weeks ago. “There was no time to rest. When I got home I had to start training for this immediately,” said Aleksandra Grigoryan, who won at this weight in Guadalajara, Mexico on November 17.

Grigoryan, 18, was delighted with her 81-108-189. It earned her third place behind Ri Su Yon from PRK, who made 94-116-210, and Surodchana Khambao from Thailand on 84-109-193.

Ri’s team-mate Kang Hyon Gyong had claimed a sweep of world record at the Asian Games in September but this time she failed to snatch 95kg three times and did not make a total. Kang’s 122kg was best in clean and jerk.

Annelien Vandenabeele from Belgium, who was sixth behind Grigoryan in Mexico, rounded off a very busy year by making 79-96-175 to improve her career-best total by 2kg. Vandenabeele, 19, has competed 15 times this year internationally and nationally, despite having bad luck with injury.

Annelien Vandenabeele (BEL)

She had a 32-hour journey home from Guadalajara because of flight delays, and headed to Qatar two weeks after her return. “I’m tired now but I needed these competitions,” she said.

To get support from her National Olympic Committee she has had to show improvement this year. It was going well in the build-up to the European Championships, with 100kg clean and jerks in training, when Vandenabeele suffered an ear infection that eventually led to a burst eardrum, putting her out of action until July.

Her coach Tom Goegebuer said, “We decided it was better to keep competing rather than just training, to improve a couple of kilos each time and rebuild confidence. It has worked.”

Vandenebeele, who is studying chemical processing, is the niece of Goegebuer’s partner Bieke Vandenabeele. When, as a young girl, she saw them training at the gym she said, “Can I try that, I want to do it.” Now she trains six days a week.

By Brian Oliver