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Doha, Day 6: PRK junior Ri takes eight world records in five lifts – including one from  Deng Wei

The 20-year-old DPR Korea lifter Ri Suk took a senior world record from one of the best weightlifters of the 21st century in a stunning performance at the IWF Grand Prix in Doha, Qatar.

Ri broke seven junior world records in five good lifts in the 64kg category. When she made 146kg on her final attempt she also bettered the senior clean and jerk world record set four years ago by Deng Wei, the Chinese star who won Olympic gold and five world titles before retiring in 2020.

Ri Suk (PRK)

To complete a golden day for PRK, Ri Chong Song won the men’s 81kg to give his team its seventh victory in Doha and an unassailable lead at the top of the Grand Prix medals table. Rahmat Erwin from Indonesia failed with a clean and jerk world record attempt and finished second.

Ri Suk’s 114-146-260, with one failure on her second clean and jerk, was 2kg short of Deng Wei’s world record total. Junior world champion Svitlana Samuliak from Ukraine, also 20, finished 48kg behind Ri, who clean and jerked considerably more than the total made by one of her fellow competitors.

Before the 13 athletes began the 64kg session, the junior world records set during a nine-month period in 2019 by Huang Ting from China stood at 107-135-240. When Ri Suk had finished they were 114-146-260. Only four athletes jerked as much as the winner snatched.  

Ri Suk’s snatches at 108kg, 111kg and 114kg were all junior world records. The next lift on 140kg was a junior best in clean and jerk and total, she dropped the fifth, and the final 146kg completed a remarkable session. Ri Suk’s team-mate Rim Un Sim, 27, was second on 113-141-254 and Ruth Ayodele from Nigeria was third on 98-120-218.

The women’s 64kg podium

Ri Suk’s last appearance in international weightlifting was before the Covid pandemic in 2019, when she made 96-122-218 at the Asian Youth and Junior Championships.

Wiktoria Wolk from Poland improved her best total by 9kg on 211kg and 18-year-old Tenishia Thornton from Malta, who has just recovered from illness, also hit a career high on 191kg.

Samuliak won the 59kg junior world title in Mexico three weeks ago, when her six-from-six 98-116-214 earned her the top female lifter award for the Championships. But for a jury review on her final attempt today she would have gone six-from-six again and improved on that total, but the press-out decision left her on 97-115-212, in fourth place.

PRK, whose athletes are not eligible to qualify for Paris 2024 because they entered the programme too late, did not send a team to the World Junior Championships.

Ri Chong Song (PRK)

Ri Chong Song and Erwin had an epic head-to-head contest in the men’s event. Erwin, 23, had already set clean and jerk world records at two weights in the past three months. He was close to making the 214kg he needed for victory and another clean and jerk world record, but lost it. When asked if he thought he was going to make it, Erwin just laughed and said, “That was good, I really enjoyed it.”

Erwin weighed in light at 76.93kg. He leads the 73kg Olympic rankings and had a message for China’s double Olympic champion Shi Zhiyong, who returned to competition in Doha for the first time since the Tokyo Games in 2021 after a long struggle with a lower back injury. Shi finished second at 73kg after declining his final two attempts because of the injury.

Rahmat Erwin (INA)

“Shi is my friend, I really want him to qualify,” said Erwin. “I want to compete with him in Paris.”

Ri Chong Song, 26, had twice failed to better Erwin’s 81kg record when he went for 210kg at the Asian Games in Hangzhou in October, where he was the only male winner for PRK. His 165-209-374 was 10kg up on his Hangzhou performance.

Erwin, who won at 73kg at the Asian Games, made a career-best snatch in his 161-201-362, failing with only that final attempt at 214kg.

Gaygysyz Torayev (TKM)

Gaygysyz Torayev from Turkmenistan was third on 150-188-338, which was 2kg up on his performance in finishing second at the World Juniors last month. Briken Calja from Albania, who bombed out in clean and jerk, won bronze in snatch on 155kg.

By Brian Oliver

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia