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Tashkent, Day 6: PRK ends with 100% record – and a good day for Korea, Iran and hosts Uzbekistan

DPR Korea finished its campaign at the Asian Championships with a 100 per cent record after Jong Chun Hui won the women’s 76kg to make it 11 from 11. The collective winning margin by the seven women and four men in the team was 260kg.

There was success for a number of other nations. Kim Suhyeon made a big move up the Olympic rankings for Korea, which had two of the day’s four winners. Iran had an impressive young champion in the men’s 89kg and a silver medal in the women’s 76kg, as well as playing a role in helping Oman to a second medal in four days.

Uzbekistan won three silver medals, and Kyrgyzstan had three bronzes – including one for an athlete coached by a swimming expert rather than a weightlifting coach. Lebanon had its first ever female medallist at the Asian Championships.

The successful PRK team – Photo credit: Isaac Morillas/

PRK’s remarkable run, which featured six women’s world records, meant that the team finished top of the medals table for a third straight competition after the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in October and the IWF Grand Prix in Doha in December. This time China was absent as its team prepares for the final Olympic qualifier, the IWF World Cup in Thailand from March 31 to April 11.

Team manager and PRK Weightlifting Federation vice-president Song Nam Jang said, “This is the first time that all of our athletes have won gold. There was no China team and next time we hope to be challenging China. For Thailand we will prepare very well.

“We trained more and more hard, we showed our skills and our abilities, and we made many world records. Our team has the very best coaches, for women and for men.”

Jong won comfortably despite weighing in light at 71.4kg and injuring her left leg when she missed her final snatch. She made only one clean and jerk before retiring and had to be helped on and off the podium.

Jong’s 111-125-236 put her 16kg ahead of Elaheh Razzaghi from Iran, who made 96-124-220 to set career-high numbers and claim her first international medal.

Like third-placed Tatiana Melnichenko from Kyrgyzstan, Razzaghi made all six lifts. Melnichenko also had a career-best performance and won her first international medal. In another first, she did it with a swimmer as her coach.

Roman Kolnbakh met Melnichenko when the two worked at a fitness gym and competed in CrossFit. “I’m a swimmer but I worked as a fitness coach for CrossFitters and in MMA, and we went into weightlifting because it’s an Olympic sport,” he said. “The federation has been OK about the situation because our results speak for themselves.”

Melnichenko said, “I’ve had a leg injury recently but today was the perfect day for me.”

Fourth place went to Hala Fattouh on 96-122-218. That was enough for a silver in snatch, making her the first ever female medallist at the Asian Championships for Lebanon.

Hala Fattouh with ‘Baba Harry’ Tchobanian – Photo credit: Isaac Morillas/

Fattouh is a dual national who trains in the United States with Ray Jones, who also coaches the multiple junior champion CJ Cummings. She has been supported and encouraged on her 10-year weightlifting journey by another Lebanese-American, the referee and former champion lifter ‘Baba Harry’ Tchobanian.

Tchobanian is officiating at these Championships and joined Fattouh on the podium after the medal ceremony. He is 93 and reckons he won his last medal for Lebanon in 1960, before becoming an International Technical Official in 1965.

The biggest mover in the Paris 2024 rankings was Kim Suhyeon, who began her career in 2011 but had never made a total at today’s weight of 81kg. Her only other attempt in 2019 ended in a bombout but this time she made six-from-six for 110-144-254, moving up from 11th to equal sixth in the rankings.

“I like 81 now, I’m on my way to Paris!” Kim said. “Everything was good, nice preparation, no injuries.”

Kim Suhyeon (KOR) – Photo credit: Isaac Morillas/

Rigina Adashbaeva from Uzbekistan was second on 107-136-243, up 12kg on her previous best in the rankings. Third place went to Kim’s team-mate Kim Iseul on 105-133-238.  Lo Ying-Yuan from Chinese Taipei, the Asian and world champion at 87kg last year, struggled to 104-127-231 and was the only other finisher on a day of four bombouts.

It was a good day for Iran in the men’s 89kg, and a bad day for those hoping to move up the Paris rankings, which nobody did. Winner Ali Alipour made 163-200-363. “My first competition as a senior, it was good,” said Alipour, 20.

His total was 12kg higher than the winner at this weight at the World Junior Championships in Mexico three months ago, where Iran sent two younger lifters.

Elyas Tamim and Amur Al-Khanjari (with the medal), with coach Tavakoli and their Iranian physio

Iran also played a large part in helping Oman on to the podium. Before this week Oman had never won a senior Asian Championships medal, now they have had two in four days. Elyas Tamim took bronze in snatch at 67kg and today Amur Al-Khanjari had a clean and jerk bronze when, like Tamim, he finished fourth on total.

Al-Khanjari had meniscus surgery recently and had been able to train for only 25 days. He and Tamim are training in Iran under the 2000 Olympic champion Hossein Tavakoli.

Second and third on total were Sarvarbek Zafarjonov from Uzbekistan on 167-195-362, and Emil Moldodosov from Kyrgyzstan on 162-190-352.

Kyrgyzstan had a third medallist when Nursultan Tarmalov was third on 149-184-333 in the men’s 96kg. Won Jongbeom from Korea was a clear winner as he made all six lifts in his 162-205-367, with the home nation’s Sunnatilla Usarov second on 161-185-346.  

By Brian Oliver