Powerhouses put on a show of strength in Nanjing
Over six days at the Nanjing International Exhibition Center, the men’s weightlifting competitions at the YOG served up plenty of spectacular action and produced some very special performances.
Easy does it for Meng Cheng
China’s Meng Cheng got the ball rolling in the men’s weightlifting competition on 17 August by easing to victory in the 56kg event.
After lifting 128kg at the third attempt in the snatch, Meng successfully hoisted 155kg in the clean and jerk to finish comfortably ahead of Vietnam’s Tuan Nguyen Tran Anh and Uzbekistan’s Adkhamjon Ergashev, who tied on 243kg. The Vietnamese lifter was awarded the silver medal on account of weighing a little under half a kilo less than Ergashev.
The consummate showman, Meng preceded each of his lifts by walking slowly to the stage, carefully chalking his hands and glancing up at the audience. His pre-lift routine continued with a trademark grunt as he placed his left and then his right hand meticulously on the barbell, which, more often than not, he then powered effortlessly over his head.
“I’m very proud I won gold for China and I am grateful to the spectators,” said the gold medallist. “I was nervous and I gained a lot of confidence. I am looking forward to taking part in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. This was not my best performance. I have done better in training.”
“This is a great victory for me,’’ said Ergashev after collecting the bronze. “I’m very proud to get the bronze medal for my country. Meng is very strong and I can honestly say he was stronger than me.’’
Pak Jongiu clinches it in the clean-and-jerk
The 62kg competition on 18 August produced more than its fair share of drama, with Korea DPR’s Pak Jongju and Italy’s Mirko Zanni each lifting 120kg to share the lead after the snatch. It was Pak who took gold, however, putting 143kg into the air in the clean and jerk, with Zanni eventually having to settle for bronze after Thailand’s Sakda Meeboon lifted 144kg on his third and final attempt to clinch the silver by a single kilo.
Zanni was nevertheless elated with his place on the podium: “I feel incredibly excited. My two months of sheer hard work have paid off.”
300 the golden number for Andreev
In the 69kg category on 19 August, Bulgaria’s Bozidhar Dimitrov Andreev trailed Russia’s Viacheslav Iarkin by a single kilo after the snatch, but powered ahead in the clean and jerk, successfully hoisting 167kg with his final lift for a gold-medal winning total of 300kg, with Iarkin finishing second, 6kg adrift.
Letting out a loud whistle before each of his lifts, Colombia’s Andres Caicedo Piedrahita took the bronze with a total of 290kg, while Mikhail Makeyev of Kazakhstan and Cameron McTaggart of New Zealand, who finished fourth and tenth respectively, delighted the crowd by celebrating their final lifts with acrobatic backflips.
Mkrtchyan strikes gold for Armenia
On 21 August, Hakob Mkrtchyan won gold for Armenia in the 77kg event, lifting 142kg in the snatch and 177kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 319kg.
After hoisting 141kg in the snatch, India’s Venkat Rahul Ragala failed at 179kg with his final attempt in the clean and jerk and finished three kilos behind Mkrtchyan in second place.
Describing the competition as “very tough”, Ragala said of his failed last lift: “I ran out of oxygen”.
Egypt’s Ahmed Elsayed looked to have secured third with a final lift of 176kg, which would have given him a total of 311kg, only for the judges to disallow it and give him a revised total of 306kg. That allowed Kazakhstan’s Zhaslan Kaliyev to claim the bronze with a combined total of 310kg, much to the delight of his fans.
Khuvgaev cruises to gold
Russia’s Khetag Khuvgaev clinched gold in the 85kg event on 22 August, and claimed afterwards that victory had been a formality.
“It was easy,” he said after topping the podium. “I wasn’t worried. I knew I was going to win.”
Khuvgaev’s confidence was well founded. He began by lifting 150kg in the snatch – some 10kg more than anyone else in the first round – and eventually racked up a combined total of 355kg, fully 34kg more than his closest rival.
Uzbekistan’s Farkhodbek Sobirov clinched the silver medal by clean-and-jerking 174kg, with Egypt’s Mohamed Shosha taking the bronze after hoisting 178kg with his final lift to edge out Iran’s Reza Beiralvand by a single kilo.
Marvellous Martirosyan makes it look easy
On the final evening of the weightlifting competition at Nanjing 2014, on 23 August, Armenia’s Simon Martirosyan won gold in the +85kg division, setting a pace that proved too hot for the rest of the field.
Martirosyan’s starting weight in the snatch was 170kg, while silver medallist Tamas Kajdoci of Serbia opted to come in at 145kg.
After clean-and-jerking 205kg with his second attempt in the second round, the Armenian then left the crowd gasping by coolly lifting 221kg, nearly double his body weight, to secure the YOG title with a total of 391kg, 55kg more than Kajdoci.
France’s Anthony Coullet lifted 327kg to beat Iran’s Saeid Reza Zadeh Pir Alvan to the bronze.
Their tussle went down to the final lift, with Coullet clean-and-jerking 186kg while Alvan failed to raise 191kg, finishing four kilos adrift of the Frenchman.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever won anything in an international competition,” said Coullet, before casting an admiring glance at the gold medallist: “He strong, so strong, so so strong.”