Iran’s Alireza Yousefi claimed superheavyweight gold in the men’s +85kg category to conclude the weightlifting competition on day 7 at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. The tense finale followed a virtuoso performance from Thailand’s Supatchanin Khamhaeng in the women’s +63kg earlier in the day.
Yousefi, 15, the Asian youth champion, produced a sensational final lift to deny Bulgaria’s Hristo Hristov the gold at the Europe Pavilion.
The Iranian had found himself trailing Hristov after the snatch round, as the best he could manage was 162kg, while the Bulgarian registered 165, 170 and 173kg.
However, the tide turned in the clean & jerk round. With a second lift of 211kg, Yousefi made sure of second place ahead of the Netherlands’ Enzo Kuworge, though he remained 6kg behind Hristov.
Yousefi steeled himself for one final effort, and his incredible lift of 218kg was enough to overhaul his rival by 1kg. He celebrated his victory by kneeling down to kiss the stage.
“I always believe that I will win the gold medal,” he said. “I’m very sure about it. It was very difficult and hard, but I finally got the gold.
“It is the happiest time in my life. The gold medal means the future and everything for me.”
Earlier on the final day, Khamhaeng was in a class of her own in the women’s +63kg, winning gold with a total of 236kg, 18kg better than Turkey’s Dilara Narin. Uzbekistan’s Dolera Davronova was third with 217kg.
No medals, but an inspiration
New Zealand’s Kanah Andrews-Nahu finished fourth, just out of the medals in the women's +63kg category. Yet despite missing out on the podium, Andrews-Nahu, who won youth, junior and senior titles at the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in June, remained upbeat.
“I definitely don’t feel pity for myself,” said the 17-year-old New Zealand flagbearer. “I put a lot of pressure on the top three. To compete with such a strong squad of the same age with me and come fourth, I was really happy.
“Today I have broken my PB (personal best) and set new New Zealand records. Now I hold 139 national records in weightlifting back in my country.”
Andrews-Nahu began weightlifting at 13 and ever since has been showcasing her talents by smashing records. She is coached by Richie Patterson, a Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist at 85kg.
My coach said I’m lifting more than he was when he was at my age and the same body weight.Kanah Andrews-Nahu New Zealand
The lifter’s efforts have already inspired many young people in her community and beyond, and Andrews-Nahu is determined to do more.
“I would like to be a role model for many young (people) of Maori and Pacific descent,” she said. “I would go (to) speak publicly to people of my age. I will also do some weightlifting demonstrations.”