Doha, Day 9: Hard work brings home win for Meso – and a big move up the Paris rankings
Meso Hassona won in his home country, totalled 400kg for the first time since winning Olympic gold in Tokyo, and defeated the Chinese leader in the Paris 2024 rankings at 102kg. Not bad for a night’s work at the IWF Grand Prix in Qatar – but he wanted more.
Meso went for a world record clean and jerk of 232kg. Like all the other seven athletes, he failed with his final attempt.
“I’m feeling OK but I could have done better, I wanted the world record,” said Meso, who competes under his formal name of Fares Elbakh. “The joy of winning and of hitting that 400 just made me take it too easy.
Fares Elbakh/Meso Hassona (QAT)
“I’ve been training hard for two months, working harder than I can remember for this. It was good for a comeback. I’m in my home country and it had to be done, I couldn’t have lost here. Now I’m going to go for a nice steak.
“Hopefully at the Asian Championships or in Thailand (the last two qualifiers in February and April) I’ll get that world record and a much bigger total than this.”
Meso made 176-224-400, improving his best qualifying total by 9kg and moving up four places to second in the rankings. As usual, he changed his uniform in the interval, this time from the maroon and white colours of Qatar in snatch to blue for clean and jerk. “It’s my thing,” he said. “Next time I’m going to go for something bright, something noisy – maybe purple.”
Liu Huanhua, who leads the rankings on 404kg, made 176-222-398 after missing two attempts. Garik Karapetyan from Armenia followed up his junior world title three weeks ago with a third-place finish in Doha on 180-211-391 but made no gain in the rankings.
The men’s 102kg podium
Two others who would have improved their ranking but for failing with their final lift were Yauheni Tsikhantsou and Don Opeloge. Tsikhantsou, the Individual Neutral Athlete from Belarus, was fifth on 177-210-387. Clean and jerk bronze medallist Opeloge, from Samoa, was sixth on 170-216-386, equalling his best qualifying total.
Tudor Bratu made a huge jump up the rankings in the B Group with a six-from-six 175-215-390. The Moldovan started the day in 24th place and ended it in the top ten, finishing fourth on total.
“I’ve had a back injury and a heel injury this year, and I wasn’t properly fit,” said Bratu. “A lot of electro massage helped me to recover and I was able to prepare properly for two months for this. I also felt good mentally, and the lifts kept coming. I’m very happy with that.”
There were world records for China and Japan in the women’s 81kg, in which Liang Xiaomei extended her lead at the top of the rankings. Her 123-161-284, which would place her fifth in the super-heavyweight list for Paris, leaves Liang 16kg clear of second-placed Sara Samir from Egypt, who along with other contenders Solfrid Koanda from Norway and Tamara Salazar from Ecuador, did not compete here.
Liang Xiaomei (CHN)
Liang, 26, retired after her fifth good lift had given her victory and world records in clean and jerk and total. Liang’s team-mate Wang Zhouyu, the 87kg Olympic champion, was beaten into second place once again. Wang failed with a world record clean and jerk attempt on 160kg and finished 120-148-268.
Eileen Cikamatana from Australia was a popular, and noisy, bronze medallist. After opening at a career high 112kg in snatch, Cikamatana whistled, stamped and screamed her way to three good lifts for 112-149-261, a gain of 1kg on her best total in qualifying.
Her trademark whistle before she makes a lift, in the warm-up room and on the platform, makes Cikamatana stand out from the crowd. After Cikamatana had visited every platform in the warm-up room to congratulate all her fellow competitors at the end of the session, which led to a few “selfie with Eileen” photos being taken, one of the medal presenters asked for tips on how to whistle.
Eileen Cikamatana (AUS)
One of Australia’s younger lifters has perfected the art. Teenager Taj Marsh sounded just like Cikamatana when he lifted at the World Juniors in Mexico last month. “I didn’t teach Taj, he saw me on a video and copied it,” said Cikamatana.
The Japanese teenager Wakana Nagashima set two youth world records at the Asian Championships in Korea in May on her international debut. Today she bettered her own total record despite missing her final attempt. Nagashima, 17, whose mother lifted at the World Championships in 1998 under her pre-marriage name of Hiromi Fujiwara, finished 105-131-236.
Aremi Fuentes, an Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo, fell further behind in the Paris lists when she made a lower ranking total of 224kg, which was 2kg lower than her best and 12kg shy of team-mate Lizbeth Nolasco, who finished fifth on 236kg. Weronika Zielinska from Poland was all set for a big gain but missed her last two attempts and her 239kg total was up only 2kg, about 10kg short of what she is likely to need to make the top ten.
By Brian Oliver
Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia