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Doha, Day 4: Shi Zhiyong back after 862 days, while Latvian Suharevs and Colombian Mosquera move up Paris rankings

China’s double Olympic champion Shi Zhiyong is back on the international platform at last. For the first time in 862 days since he won gold in Tokyo, Shi returned to action at the IWF Grand Prix II in Doha, Qatar.

He finished second to the improving European champion Ritvars Suharevs from Latvia despite declining his final two clean and jerks in the 73kg A Group. Shi will be seventh in the Paris rankings after making 160-180-340, while Suharevs’ six-from-six 156-185-341 will take him up to fifth.

Shi Zhiyong (CHN)

“It’s my first silver medal since 2012,” perennial winner Shi joked afterwards. When he learned how many days he had been away, he said, “It’s been a long, long journey.

“I got injured at the Chinese National Games in 2021, a lower back injury, and I’ve been recovering ever since. I’ve always had a lower back injury. The snatch was OK, but clean and jerk still gives me pain. I wanted to make more attempts today but I couldn’t do it.”

He was happy to be back with a total that is likely to be good enough for a place in the all-important top ten of the Paris rankings. There are two more chances to compete again in qualifying, at the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan in February and the IWF World Cup in Thailand in April, before China decides which athletes to send to the Olympic Games.

Ritvars Suharevs (LAT)

Suharevs has also had his problems. He had surgery on both shoulders after finishing sixth at the Tokyo Olympic Games and will have to have a third operation after Paris. As in Armenia, where he won the European title in April, Suharevs was full of praise for his support team comprising coach Eduard Andruskevics and physio Arnis Noveicuks.

“They are the best team, they have given so much time to me,” said Suharevs, who has improved his best total by 22kg since the 2022 World Championships last December. “We just had a great training camp in Estonia and this was good today. I started lower in clean and jerk because I didn’t make one at the World Championships (in September).

“I had to cut a lot of weight for the fifth time, from 76kg yesterday to 73. But I won’t be taking a rest now, I have to keep winning. I will be at the European Championships in February, I want to win that one again.”

Weeraphon Wichuma (THA)

Third placed Weeraphon Wichuma, the 19-year-old world champion from Thailand, won clean and jerk gold but made no gains in the rankings on 145-189-334, while fourth-placed Julio Mayora from Venezuela also failed to better his top qualifying total after two snatch failures in his 145-188-333.

The Colombian Luis Javier Mosquera, another who had a long absence because of a shoulder injury, had good reason to be happier than many others. He lifted in the B Group and made 150-180-330, a 5kg improvement on his best qualifying effort and good enough for a snatch bronze.

Mosquera, a silver medallist at 67kg in Tokyo, nearly missed the medal ceremony after getting stuck in traffic on the way back to the Aspire Zone but just got there in time. “I was happy with that, up five kilos,” he said.

“I need more training because I haven’t been able to train properly until the past three months. I’m expecting better next year.” He will lift at the Pan American Championships in February.

Doston Yokubov from Uzbekistan made five from six for 145-182-327, his best total at this weight after winning world and Asian titles at 67kg during recent years. Four men bombed out: Bernardin Kingue Matam from France, Tojo Adriatsitohaina from Madagascar, Bektimur Reyimov from Turkmenistan and the Chinese Taipei B group lifter Chuang Sheng-Min.

Two athletes from Kiribati and Tuvalu did not take up their entries here, leaving Oceania without a single eligible athlete at 73kg. If all four other continental federations are represented in the top 10 by the end of qualifying, that could lead to reallocation of the continental slot at this weight.

The non-Olympic men’s 67kg lost some lustre when China’s multiple champion and world record holder Chen Lijun withdrew. That left the way clear for Ri Won Ju to claim PRK’s fifth victory of the week.

Ri Won Ju (PRK)

Ri, 21, finished second to Chen at the Asian Games with a total of 321kg and could have won with 20kg less than that in Doha. He made all six lifts for 139-178-317, which left him way ahead of the only other man to hit the 300kg mark, Ivan Dimov from Bulgaria.

Dimov was second in snatch and total on 140-160-300, and snatch winner Bunyad Rashimov from Turkmenistan was third on 141-157-298. Silver and bronze in clean and jerk when to Sairamkez Akmolda from Kazakhstan, fourth overall on 126-168-294, and seventh-placed Ishimbek Muratbek from Kyrgyzstan on 120-164-284.

By Brian Oliver