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Doha, Day 3: Two more wins for PRK, and progress in Paris rankings for Philippines, Malaysia and USA

Two more wins for DPR Korea, 11 different medallists in two events, an Olympic champion withdrawing when in the lead and a bombout by a multiple world record holder were among the highlights on day three of the IWF Grand Prix in Qatar. The C Group lifter Mohamad Aniq from Malaysia finished third in the men’s 61kg, in which five of the top 10 lifted yesterday in B and C sessions. John Ceniza from the Philippines was the only A Group lifter to make an improvement on his best total in the Paris 2024 rankings. John Ceniza (PHI) “I am really so happy with that, second place and two kilos more in qualifying,” said Ceniza, who is aiming to become the first male lifter from the Philippines to lift at the Olympic Games in decades. Pak Myong Jin from PRK was the only one of 23 athletes over two days to better 300kg on total. He made 134-171-305 to win ahead of Ceniza on 133-165-298. Aniq, third on 126-170-296, will be in the top ten when the rankings are updated. Pak Myong Jin (PRK) The gold and silver medallists in snatch failed to make a total. Olympic champion Li Fabin from China, who led at halfway on 137kg, withdrew with his left elbow heavily strapped. Eko Yuli Irawan, who bombed out in clean and jerk in the B Group, was second on 136kg, ahead of Pak. Pak won the clean and jerk, Aniq was second and the American teenager Hampton Morris, who also moved into the top ten, was third on 170kg. Morris, fifth on total on 292kg, was the only athlete from outside Asia in the top eight. Hampton Morris (USA) Ricko Saputra from Indonesia, who has lifted in all five qualifiers to date, failed three times in clean and jerk as he tried in vain to make ground on team-mate Irawan in the extended rankings. Another who failed to make a total was Trinh Van Vinh from Vietnam, who bombed out in the snatch. Aleksandra Grigoryan (ARM) The women’s 55kg featured a rare bombout by a world record holder and career-best totals for two teenagers who competed at the World Junior Championships less than three weeks ago. “There was no time to rest. When I got home I had to start training for this immediately,” said Aleksandra Grigoryan, who won at this weight in Guadalajara, Mexico on November 17. Grigoryan, 18, was delighted with her 81-108-189. It earned her third place behind Ri Su Yon from PRK, who made 94-116-210, and Surodchana Khambao from Thailand on 84-109-193. Ri’s team-mate Kang Hyon Gyong had claimed a sweep of world record at the Asian Games in September but this time she failed to snatch 95kg three times and did not make a total. Kang’s 122kg was best in clean and jerk. Annelien Vandenabeele from Belgium, who was sixth behind Grigoryan in Mexico, rounded off a very busy year by making 79-96-175 to improve her career-best total by 2kg. Vandenabeele, 19, has competed 15 times this year internationally and nationally, despite having bad luck with injury. Annelien Vandenabeele (BEL) She had a 32-hour journey home from Guadalajara because of flight delays, and headed to Qatar two weeks after her return. “I’m tired now but I needed these competitions,” she said. To get support from her National Olympic Committee she has had to show improvement this year. It was going well in the build-up to the European Championships, with 100kg clean and jerks in training, when Vandenabeele suffered an ear infection that eventually led to a burst eardrum, putting her out of action until July. Her coach Tom Goegebuer said, “We decided it was better to keep competing rather than just training, to improve a couple of kilos each time and rebuild confidence. It has worked.” Vandenebeele, who is studying chemical processing, is the niece of Goegebuer’s partner Bieke Vandenabeele. When, as a young girl, she saw them training at the gym she said, “Can I try that, I want to do it.” Now she trains six days a week. By Brian

Doha, Day 2: Jiang turns tables on PRK world record holder before heading to Paris with Team China

Jiang Huihua enjoyed singing her national anthem after making a career-best total in winning the women’s 49kg on day two of the IWF Grand Prix II in Doha. Nine weeks ago Jiang, who leads the Olympic rankings at this weight, had been beaten into second place by Ri Song Gum, who set two world records in her total of 216kg at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. That was the first of several victories for DPR Korea that led China’s head coach Wang Guoxin to declare: “We are no longer number one. Now PRK is ahead of us and we need to catch up.” Jiang Huihua (CHN) Jiang turned the tables on Ri at the Aspire Zone in Doha, making all six attempts for 96-120-216. Ri failed twice in clean and jerk and made 93-120-213, ahead of Jiang’s team-mate and Olympic champion Hou Zhihui on 96-113-209. “I was very excited to stand on the podium, to see our flag and sing our anthem,” said Jiang. “DPRK did perform very well at the Asian Games. Since then we have prepared really well, worked very hard and encouraged each other.” The next stop for Jiang and her team-mates, along with a large group of coaches and support staff, is Paris. Team China will fly direct from Doha to France for a week’s training camp and acclimatisation, which will include a visit to the Athletes Village for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in July-August. “I’m really looking forward to the training camp. I’ve never been to France and it will be good to see it and get used to the conditions,” she said. That seems sure to be the first of two visits for Jiang. Her place at the top of the rankings can realistically be challenged only by Hou, whose best total in qualifying is 5kg lower. PRK athletes are not eligible. Jiang, up 1kg on her best total, could have been overtaken if Hou or Ri had made world record attempts on 121kg and 124kg respectively, but both failed. Four others improved their best qualifying totals. Katherin Echandia from Venezuela was up 8kg in making 84-106-190. Rosegie Ramos from the Philippines was up by 3kg despite missing her last two lifts, on 88-103-191, a 21kg improvement on her 2022 World Championships total a year ago. Giulia Imperio from Italy made only her openers but 85-100-185 was a 2kg improvement, while Dahiana Ortiz from Dominican Republic is now only 1kg behind team-mate Beatriz Piron after her 82-108-190. Ri Song Gum (PRK) Jourdan Delacruz missed two snatch attempts and the USA coaching team decided it was best for her to withdraw from clean and jerk to save her legs. There were no medical concerns. Another PRK lifter was close to a world record. Won Hyon Sim got two white lights for her 86kg snatch attempt in the 45kg A Group, but the jury overturned it for bending and extending her arms. Won made 82-99-181 to finish clear of Rosegie’s sister Rose Jean Ramos, her only rival, on 70-85-155. The men’s 61kg B group featured two athletes who are hoping to be among the medal contenders in Paris, 34-year-old Eko Yuli Irawan from Indonesia, an Olympic medallist four times already, and the American teenager Hampton Morris. Eko Yuli Irawan (INA) Irawan will need recovery time after he ended a busy spell with his second successive bombout, having gone 17 years without one. He had icepacks on his knees at the end of the session. In the past seven months Irawan, 34, has won at the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia and the IWF Grand Prix I in Cuba, finished second at the World Championships, and bombed out at the Asian Games in China in September. This second straight failure came after he had snatched 136kg. Morris, second at 67kg at the World Junior Championships in Mexico 17 days ago, made two attempts to better the junior world record in clean and jerk. Although he failed both times on 174kg, and missed two snatches, his 122-170-292 moved him up into the top ten of the Paris rankings. Losing weight in a short time had not been a problem, said Morris, who has been making big numbers in training. “I was actually about 64kg in Mexico,” he said. “It was a very gradual calory deficit over a few weeks.” Thailand’s 2022 world champion at 55kg, Theeraphong Silachai, also opted to lift in the B Group, finishing well below his best on 123-155-278. Another disappointed athlete in this session was Muhamad Aznil from Malaysia, who bombed out in the snatch for a third time in his career. Aznil, twice a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was 17th in the extended rankings (more than one athlete per nation) before today, two places and 1kg behind his team-mate Muhamad Aniq. While Aznil failed to make a total and stays on 290kg, Aniq hit career-best numbers in the preceding C Group on 126-170-296, outperforming everybody in the B Group and moving into seventh place before Wednesday’s A Group. The two “are good friends who push each other to do better,” said Malaysia’s coach Edmund Yeo. Malaysia has no other contenders for Paris. Aznil and Aniq will go to a training camp in either Indonesia or China for a month before a final head-to-head qualifying showdown at the IWF Grand Prix in Thailand in April. “We will then be preparing our back-up squad again, looking towards the next Commonwealth Games,” said Yeo.  By Brian

Doha, Day 1: Winning start for PRK, and a weight struggle for Madagascar’s medal hero

The DPR Korea team started with victory on the opening day of the IWF Grand Prix in Qatar, just as they had done at the Asian Games in China two months ago. Pang Un Chol won the men’s 55kg, the only medal event on day one at the Aspire Zone in Doha. It was his second international competition, more than four years after the first when he finished third at the Asian Junior Championships with a total of 241kg at this weight. Pang, 22, made all six lifts in his 116-152-268. His impressive total was only 1kg lower than Lai Gia Thanh from Vietnam made in winning the world title two months ago in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pang finished a long way ahead of two men who made career-best numbers, Satrio Adi from Indonesia on 115-139-243 and Dilanka Yodage from Sri Lanka on 112-133-245. PRK was absent during the Covid pandemic, withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and did not return in any sport until the Asian Games in Hangzhou this year. PRK topped the medals table ahead of China there, and with a team of seven men and nine women in Doha, three of them world record holders, they have a chance of doing so again at the Grand Prix. The women’s 49kg A Group is not until Tuesday but already we have seen a double world champion, two continental champions, two Tokyo Olympians, and multiple age-group medallists in today’s B Group. Many of the athletes were moving up or down from non-Olympic categories to try for a good qualifying total, and only one did it, first-placed Pham Dinh Tri from Vietnam on 81-102-183. The first lift of the session was made by Thanyathon Sukcharoen from Thailand, who has twice won world titles at 45kg. She declined two snatch attempts and is clearly waiting for better fitness. Next out was Rosina Randafiarison, who was second at this year’s World Championships in Saudi Arabia, also at 45kg. That made her the first athlete in any Olympic sport to win a World Championships medal for Madagascar. Madagascar team of Rosina Randafarison with coach Eric Andriantsitohaina and his brother Tojo, who lifts on Wednesday The 10 per cent increase in body weight has caused problems for Randafiarison, 24. Although she weighed more here, her total was 15kg lower than her 170kg in Riyadh in September. “That wasn’t easy,” she said. “It’s difficult to move when you put on weight, your body doesn’t feel right. I eat more, sleep more, but when you feel full it’s like your body doesn’t want to move.” Her coach Eric Andriantsitohaina, whose brother Tojo competes here at 73kg, said, “We need a few more months but we hope to be ready for Paris.” There is a close contest between Randafiarison and the five-time Olympian Dika Toua for the continental place at 49kg. They both look certain to finish outside the top ten, below which only the highest-placed athlete from a continent not automatically qualified will go to Paris. Randfiarison has a best qualifying total of 170kg while Toua, from Papua New Guinea, has made 166kg. Fang Wan-Ling from Chinese Taipei tried to overtake team-mate Lin Cheng Jing in the extended ranking list when she went for a 12kg jump on her last clean and jerk. In a session that featured a lot of red lights, she missed it.  By Brian

Ningbo (CHN) will host the 2026 IWF World Championships  

The city of Ningbo, in China, will be the host of the 2026 edition of the IWF World Championships, after a vote by the IWF Executive Board, meeting today in Doha (QAT). This IWF showcase will be staged following the World Championships in 2024 in Manama (BRN) and the 2025 rendezvous in Forde (NOR).   Ningbo is located in the northeast province of Zhejiang, not far from the cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou. It has a population of over nine million citizens and has acquired recent successful experience in staging sports international events. The competition venue of the Championships will be the Ningbo Olympic Sports Centre, a facility constructed in 2019 and with a 10,000-seat capacity. Moreover, all the proposed hotels to host the participants in the competition will be within a 30-minute distance by car from the venue.   The IWF Executive Board also awarded two other important competitions, both to be held in 2025: the IWF World Youth Championships will take place in Lima (PER), while the IWF World Junior Championships were given to the city Tashkent (UZB).   The allocation of these important IWF rendezvous was the highlight of the meeting, which also approved the provisional budget of the international federation for 2024, the revalidation of the IWF Refugee Team programme for next year, and the creation of the Weightlifting World Day, to be annually celebrated on October 16, the date in which the IOC decided in 2023 to reinstate the sport in the programme of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. IWF Executive Board members   “We have shown once more our unity and co-operation while taking important decisions for the future of the IWF. Our events are now increasing in quality and in exposure, and this shows a positive evolution of our sport around the globe,” considered the IWF President Mohammed Jalood. “The most recent example is here in Qatar. With almost 400 lifters from 100 countries, we will have a great competition during the next 10 days. I am sure that many outstanding performances will be set in Doha, as this is an important Olympic qualification event. We all feel at home in Qatar and the hospitality of our hosts is really amazing,” concluded Mr Jalood.   This Monday, December 4, kicks off the IWF Grand Prix II in Doha, the vibrant capital of Qatar, the last IWF event of the year, gathering some of the best lifters of the planet, still aiming at getting their ticket for the 2024 Paris Games. IWF

Doha, Preview: Shi Zhiyong back at last as champions and world record holders boost quality of IWF Grand Prix

Nine Olympic gold medallists, nine current world champions and 13 world record holders will lift over the next two weeks in the Olympic qualifier in Doha Qatar. There will also be a formidable DPRK team featuring three women who set world records eight weeks ago. There are a few notable absentees, including Lasha Talakhadze, Akbar Djuraev, Kuo Hsing-chun and Neisi Dajomes, and 14 strong contenders for the all-important top ten places in the rankings have opted to weigh in without lifting. But the second IWF Grand Prix of the year is not far away from World Championships standard. This is the fifth of seven qualifying opportunities for those hoping to compete in August at Paris 2024. It starts this Monday and ends on December 14. Shi Zhiyong (CHN) One of those nine Olympic champions, Shi Zhiyong from China, stands 78th in the rankings at 73kg because injury has prevented him making from making a single lift in competition since he won in Tokyo. He has participated by weighing in but has no total. At last Shi, who won at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, is ready to return to the platform. In the absence of the two Indonesians who have starred in this category but are not among the 382 entries for the Grand Prix, Rahmat Erwin and Rizki Juniansyah, Shi’s main rivals are likely to be from across the world. European champion Ritvars Suharevs from Latvia has the highest entry total, while others expected to challenge for medals include world champion Weeraphon Wichuma from Thailand, Pan American champion Julio Mayora from Venezuela and the rapidly improving Tojo Andriatsitohaina from Madagascar, who spent many weeks this year at a training camp in China. Weeraphon Wichuma (THA) Another Tokyo winner hoping to make a move in the rankings is Meso Hassona (Fares Elbakh) from the host nation at 102kg. He is sixth in the rankings on 391kg, and may need a few kilos more than that to make the top ten by the end of qualifying in April. Meso has the highest entry total of 400kg, a number made by only one man to date in qualifying, Liu Huanhua from China, whose entry is 10kg lower. PRK athletes cannot qualify for Paris because they missed too many competitions. If they perform as they did on their return at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China two months ago they could win plenty of medals and chase more world records. The women’s 49kg and 59kg categories in Doha would have been exceptionally strong without PRK’s presence. With world record holders Ri Gong Sum and Kim Il Gyong taking part, these two A Groups should be among the highlights of the competition. After Ri, Kim and Kang Hyon Gyong all broke world records in Hangzhou, helping PRK to top the medals table, China’s head women’s coach Wang Guoxin said China was no longer the world number one. “Now DPRK is ahead of us and we need to catch up,” Wang said. “The DPRK team at the Asian Games has delivered wonderful results… this is a healthy trend and we welcome it.” China’s women’s super-heavyweight multiple champion and record-breaker Li Wenwen is easing her way back from an injury sustained at the World Championships and has entered on 253kg, about 80kg below her best. There will be a fascinating American head-to-head here between Sarah Robles and Mary Theisen Lappen, who are separated by one place in the extended rankings. Mary Theisen Lappen (USA) Those who have opted for weigh-in only include Mirabai Chanu from India and Beatriz Piron from Dominican Republic at 49kg, the Egyptians Neama Said and Sara Samir, and Brazilians Amanda da Costa and Laura Amaro. All of Iran’s top male contenders will weigh in without lifting, as will Safaa Rashid from Iraq, Karim Abokahla from Egypt, Jhonatan Rivas from Colombia and Gor Minasyan from Bahrain. Apart from China and PRK, Thailand also sends a very strong team. By Brian

Improvements to the IWF Anti-Doping Rules in 2024

The IWF recently informed all its National Member Federations on the summary of the amendments to the 2024 IWF Anti-Doping rules, to be applicable from January 1, 2024. The main novelties include: TESTING  Added new paragraph 5.5.17. in Article 5 to address situations of unavailability of athletes for testing; new section (v) in paragraph 18.1.4, in order to ensure that all athletes can be subject to unannounced Out-of-Competition Testing under the IWF’s Testing authority throughout the year. RESULTS MANAGEMENT Clarification on the circumstances justifying the imposition or lifting of a provisional suspension (Art. 7.4.2). New paragraph 8.3.4: new evidence permit the reopening of a case. GENERAL Art. 13.2.4: cross-appeals and other subsequent appeals allowed Art 14.7: means of notice ADDITIONAL ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBER FEDERATIONS (MFs) Introduced concept of Categorisation of MFs (Category A, B, C) with different obligations imposed on each group (Art. 18.8) Category ‘A’ MFs: obligation to ensure at least 2 Out-of-Competition (OOC) tests (under the NADO’s TA) and mandatory Education course within 6 months prior to Senior World Championships (WC), Junior WC and Olympic Games (Art. 18.9.3) Category ‘B’ MFs: obligation to ensure at least 1 OOC test (under the NADO’s TA) and MFs are strongly encouraged to ensure that all athletes competing in a Selected Event and coaches and medical professionals participating in the event complete the WADA ADEL education programme specified by the ITA for each event within 6 months prior to Senior WC, Junior WC and Olympic Games (Art. 18.9.4). Category ‘C’ MFs: MFs are encouraged to ensure that all affiliated athletes competing in a Selected Event are subject to testing by the NADO/RADO (no minimum requirement) and MFs are strongly encouraged to ensure that all athletes competing in a Selected Event and coaches and medical professionals participating in the event are subject to anti-doping education programmes before their participation.  In exceptional circumstances outside of the control of the MF, the MF may request the IWF to test (under IWF’s TA) its athletes to meet the requirements, provided that strict conditions apply (Art. 18.9.8).Automatic ineligibility to compete in the IWF Event in question in case of failure to meet the testing/education requirements (Art. 18.9.14)  Relevant documents/links: New 2024 IWF Anti-Doping rules here. Operational guidelines for categorisation of Member Federations here. An infographic to help each Member Federation to better understand how it works here. 2024 list of categorised Member Federations