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Phuket, Day 4: Glory and tears for Olympic champions, and a world record for China in ‘best ever session’

Two Olympic champions earned a place at Paris 2024, and a third was in tears after being knocked out of contention by a team-mate on a night to remember at the IWF World Cup in Phuket.

There was a world record for the Chinese winner Luo Shifang, who extended her lead at the top of the rankings. Ten athletes bombed out across the four 59kg sessions in their final attempt to qualify.

Luo Shifang (CHN)

All three Olympic gold medallists were competing at 59kg. Two of them had to move up or down in weight when the number of medal events was cut from 14 in Tokyo to 10 in Paris.

“That was the single best session I have ever lifted in, and not because it was my best performance,” said Maude Charron, the Canadian who won 64kg gold in Tokyo in 2021.

“Three Olympic champions in one competition, and Luo finishes it by breaking the world record. So much quality, so much professionalism out there on the platform… You could sense it even in the warm-up room. It was better than the Olympics. It’s insane.”

Maude Charron (CAN)

The 59kg Tokyo winner Kuo Hsing-Chun from Chinese Taipei could afford to decline her final attempt after making 100-130-230. She finished fifth in the rankings, and lost her world record on total when Luo made her final attempt at 140kg.

Luo’s 108-140-248 stretched her rankings lead to 12kg ahead of Kamila Konotop from Ukraine, who withdrew after weighing in, and Charron both on 236kg. Charron’s 106-130-236 gave her career highs across the board. 

Charron was third on the night behind Luo and Kim Il Gyong, the snatch world record holder from DPR Korea. Kim, who had beaten Luo at the Asian Games in China in September, made 108-132-240.

Hidilyn Diaz (PHI)

Hidilyn Diaz, who found it hard to go up in weight after winning at 55kg in Tokyo, was in tears after losing her advantage over team-mate Elreen Ando. Diaz, 33, became the Philippines’ first Olympic champion in any sport in Tokyo.

“I love this sport, I don’t want to stop,” Diaz said. “But what I have to do now is take a good rest and think about the priorities in my life. Today wasn’t my day, Paris was not to be.

“But overall I’m happy. I’ve given a lot to this sport and it’s given a lot to me.”

One thing Diaz missed during her years of total dedication to weightlifting was a honeymoon. “There will be time for that now,” she said.

Her husband and coach Julius Naranjo said, “We gave it our best. Hidilyn is still a legend.”

Naranjo had enjoyed success earlier in the day when one of the other athletes he coaches, Mattie Sasser, qualified for Paris in the C Group. Sasser lifted at Rio 2016 for the Marshall Islands, then switched to the United States for a while. Although she lives and trains in the US she is competing for Marshall Islands again.

Kim Il Gyong (PRK)

Sasser’s 99-117-216, a career best at this weight and enough for 12th place among the 44 entries in all groups, earned her the continental slot ahead of Kiana Elliott from Australia.

Rafiatu Lawal from Nigeria also lifted in C, despite being seventh in the rankings when she started. Lawal improved her best total on 101-126-227 but dropped to eighth when Ando went past her on 100-128-228.

Yenny Alvarez from Colombia, who was 9kg down on her best total today, was fourth in the rankings. Anyelin Venegas from Venezuela and Dora Tchakounte from France were the only two athletes to make six from six, taking sixth and ninth place in the rankings on 229kg and 224kg respectively.

Janeth Gomez from Mexico took 10th place on 223kg, displacing the American Taylor Wilkins, who dropped to 11th. Nina Sterckx from Belgium, who is in the top 10 at 49kg, was 12th.  

By Brian Oliver

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia