LONDON: Charismatic North Korean Kim Un-Guk and China’s Li Xueying broke a raft of records as they handed out two masterclasses in weightlifting at the London Olympics here on Monday.
Kim set a world record in the total thanks to equalling another in the snatch that was the basis for an emphatic victory in the men’s -62kg class.
Li broke two new Olympic records as she crushed her rivals on the way to claiming gold in the women’s -58kg class in a third day of enthralling action at a packed ExCel arena.
While Li was understated in her performance, Kim was anything but as he whipped the 6,000-capacity stadium into a frenzy with his flamboyant showmanship at the barbell.
Kim snatched 153kg, also a new Olympic record, to match Chinese lifter Shi Zhiyong’s world record, and then went on to clean and jerk 174kg for a combined total of 327kg, beating the previous record held by China’s Zhang Jie by 1kg.
Colombian Oscar Figueroa claimed a shock silver with a total of 317kg (140, 177), his clean and jerk a new Olympic record, while Indonesia’s Irawan Eko Yuli took bronze with 317kg (145, 172) on the bodyweight rule.
Each time he set foot on the podium, Kim grinned at the cheering crowd, a roar as he approached the barbell eliciting similar grunts in reply from the delighted spectators.
Kim’s reaction after each successful lift was one of unmitigated joy, prompting him to scream, shake his right fist over the bar and jump in the air before rapidly skipping off the platform. The crowd, quite simply, adored it.
His superiority in the snatch saw him take a massive 13kg lead over Zhang, the favourite for the event, into the clean and jerk. The Asiad champion failed with his third clean and jerk and missed a podium place by 3kg.
In the women’s competition, Asian Games champion Li, also the current world silver medallist, produced a stunning performance, recording a combined total of 246kg after snatching 108kg and registering a best in the clean and jerk of 138kg. Both the snatch and total were Olympic records.
She narrowly missed a final clean and jerk at 144kg which would have given her the world record.
Thailand’s Pimsiri Sirikaew took silver with a total of 236kg (100, 136), with Ukraine’s Yuliya Kalina claiming bronze with 235kg (106, 129).
The gold medal showing was sweet revenge for Li over Belarus’ current world champion Natassia Novikava, who trumped the Chinese lifter at the 2011 world championships in Paris.
Novikava dramatically saw her final clean and jerk at 133kg ruled out by the judges after she tottered on the stage and the Belarus lifter missed out altogether on the podium, finishing down in seventh place. (AFP)