Tashkent, Day 7: Olympic champion Djuraev sheds 25kg and makes huge move in Paris rankings
Before today Akbar Djuraev had never lifted in the 102kg category. Now he is not only Asian champion at that weight, he is a very strong medal contender for Paris 2024.
Olympic 109kg champion Djuraev gave host nation Uzbekistan its best result of the week at the Asian Championships in Tashkent. He won decisively and sent out a strong message to the top two in the Olympic rankings, who did not lift today – world champion Liu Huanhua from China and the 96kg Olympic gold medallist Meso Hassona from Qatar.
They were the only two athletes to have hit the 400kg mark before Djuraev did the same, making 180-220-400 to take third place in the rankings. He was happy with the victory but not the total, because he was hoping to do better than Liu’s 404kg and go straight to the top of the list.
Akbar Djuraev (UZB) – Photo credit: Isaac Morillas/awf.sport
“I wanted much more than 400, but I made a couple of technical errors,” said Djuraev, who missed his third snatch on 183kg and his second clean and jerk on 219kg. “The numbers I want in Paris are 190-235.”
Djuraev will be keen to outperform Liu. He watched in disbelief at the Asian Games, and was in tears afterwards as Liu made a winning clean and jerk of 233kg to overtake him for gold at 109kg. There was no 102kg at that event and Liu had weighed in at 101.8kg.
There is no 109kg category in Paris. After winning Olympic gold and the world title in 2021, Djuraev tried going up rather than down in weight. He was a super-heavyweight at three competitions, the last of which was last year’s Asian Championships in Korea, where he finished third. In nine months since then he has lost 25kg.
“It was very, very difficult when I first started trying to lose weight,” said Djuraev, who is ranked sixth in the super-heavyweights. “I was eating so much less than before, I struggled. But now I feel good.”
It was a great result for Djuraev but not for anybody else hoping to make ground in the rankings. Five athletes withdrew after weighing in, including Meso, and three more failed to make a total.
Jang Yeonhak from Korea, who drops from third to fourth in the rankings, failed with all three clean and jerks.
Bekdoolot Rasulbekov from Kyrgyzstan was second, 14kg behind Djuraev. He had a chance to improve his total but dropped his final lift on 218kg and is now seventh.
Third-placed Chen Po-Jen from Chinese Taipei also tried to make a move but missed his last two attempts to finish 176-206-382.
Women’s +87kg podium – Photo credit: Isaac Morillas/awf.sport
Park Hyejeong completed an impressive hat-trick of wins in the women’s super-heavyweights and will be aiming to hit the 300kg mark at the final Olympic qualifier, the IWF World Cup in Thailand in April which ends on April 11.
The 20-year-old Korean won the world title in Saudi Arabia in September, where the Olympic champion and rankings leader Li Wenwen from China had to withdraw after two lifts with an elbow injury. Park then won gold at the Asian Games four weeks later, and today she made 128-165-293 to claim her first senior continental title.
Competing twice in quick succession took its toll and Park had a knee injury that disrupted her preparations. “I have been doing my best to get fit,” she said. “I didn’t work any less hard than usual. The knee is better now and I will definitely compete in Thailand because I want 130-70, and in Paris I will lift more.”
Park missed her final clean and jerk of 171kg. Her team-mate Son Younghee was second on 127-160-287, and the Indonesian Nural Akmal was third on 110-149-259.
Yun Ha Je’s winning total in the women’s 87kg was lower than the champions at 76kg and 81kg. Yun made all six lifts without extending herself to post 100-130-230. Nigora Suvonova from Uzbekistan was second on 101-128-229, and Maghsoudi Kizhan from Iran was third on 96-117-213.
By Brian Oliver