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Kazakhstan's Nijat Rahimov smashed the clean and jerk world record by 4kg to land men’s 77kg weightlifting gold at Rio 2016 on 10 August, while China’s Xiang Yanmei topped the podium in the women’s 69kg, an event that saw Egyptian lifter Sara Ahmed score a notable first for her country.
The Kazakh produced the performance of the day at the Riocentro, lifting 214kg to add to his snatch score of 165kg to post a combined total of 379kg. Though Chinese superstar Lyu Xiaojun matched it, Rahimov took the gold on account of being lighter than his opponent.
Lyu had earlier broken the snatch world record and was well ahead of Rahimov going into the second stage. Unable to jerk more than 202kg, however, and having completed all his attempts, the Chinese lifter saw the gold slip through his hands when Rahimov pulled off his sensational lift.
“It is the most amazing feeling,” said the newly crowned Olympic champion. “I have been practising for two years. I have been practising in Azerbaijan and when I returned to Kazakhstan I continued to practise.”
Egypt’s Mohamed Ihab took the bronze on what was an historic day for the country. “Egyptian weightlifting is born again,” proclaimed Ihab. “In Tokyo 2020, Egypt's position in world weightlifting will be different.”
Earlier, his compatriot Sara Ahmed's also collected a bronze in the women's 69kg to become the first Egyptian woman to take her place on an Olympic podium. “This is such a big honour,” said Ahmed, who won gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing two years ago. “All Egypt was waiting for one or two medals from our team. It is a very great honour and I can't express my thoughts.”
Xiang Yanmei shrugged off a setback when the bar fell awkwardly on her head during her final snatch attempt, to lift a total of 261kg. That was good enough to take the gold, China's fourth in weightlifting at Rio 2016. Kazakhstan's Zhazira Zhapparkul finished 2kg adrift in the silver medal position.
"Every new competition is a great experience for athletes to train their minds and their bodies,” said the Chinese lifter who was making her Olympic debut. “I think the Olympics is a good environment and I like it a lot.