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Iran’s Kianoush Rostami broke his own world record to win the men's 85kg weightlifting at Rio 2016 and clinch his country's first medal of the Games. Meanwhile Rim-Jong-Sim opened the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Rio gold account with in the women’s 75kg.
The 25-year-old Rostami, who finished with a bronze in the same weight category in London four years ago, lifted 217kg with his final clean and jerk for a total of 396kg, beating his world record by one kilogramme. Tian Tao of China took silver with 395kg despite making only two of his six lifts, while Romania's Gabriel Sincraian, who lifted a total of 390kg, took bronze.
Rostami looked supremely confident throughout, though he admitted to feeling a bit of uncertainty. “I have lifted 225kg in training, but that 217kg was a challenge," the Iranian told reporters. "Anything can happen."
When he made his first two snatches with apparent ease, Rostami bowed and gestured to the crowd. However, he missed his third attempt and finished the snatch only 1kg ahead of his main rival, Tian, who himself had earlier come desperately close to being eliminated after several failed attempts. “I offer my congratulations to the winner and hope we have many more chances to compete against each other. I am confident I can beat him,” said Tian.
Unusually, Rostami coaches himself, which he admits presents its own challenges. “Nobody thought it was possible to come to Rio without a coach but here I am. All the time I train alone, just me in a training camp. Nobody sees me. It can make your mind go a bit crazy, but I will be here again the next time (at Tokyo 2020) for sure.”
Rostami also predicted more weightlifting gold medals for Iran, which boasts the favourites in two of the remaining three men's medal events, Sohrab Moradi in the 94kg and Behdad Salimikordabiasi in the super-heavyweights. “We will see more gold medals, and more world records for Iran," said Rostami. “Now that I have won, I'm sure others will win too.”
Rim-Jong-Sim won gold in the women's 75kg weightlifting event on Friday 12 August at Riocentro to become the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Rim won by a margin of 16kg and became the first woman to win gold in both the 69kg and 75kg, having clinched the former title at London 2012. On this occasion, she managed to fend off Darya Naumava of Belarus, who claimed silver, and Spain’s Lidia Valentin Perez, who claimed bronze, Spain’s first Olympic weightlifting medal.
“I did not feel any pressure, I just focused on each lift,” said Rim. “Training was very hard and sometimes I was crying when I finished. But I knew that whenever that happened I was a step closer to the gold medal. I was really overwhelmed with happiness to win this gold.”
Naumava’s silver medal was the second successive podium finish for a Belarusian in this event, following Iryna Kulesha’s bronze at London 2012. “I’m very happy but I’m going to prepare further goals for myself,” she said. “I didn't expect anything but I was pleased to lift what I did and win a medal.”
Perez celebrated her bronze in exuberant fashion on the podium, making a heart symbol with her hands “for all the people who come to support me and love me.” And she added: “It may be a bronze medal but it feels like gold," said Valentin. "I'm really, really excited that I could stand on the podium after so many years. I am going out tonight to celebrate.”