Sport

Weight of a nation! North Korean man lifts nation’s spirit with gold

Tuesday, July 31, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AFP) — Charismatic North Korean Kim Un-Guk set a world record to win gold in the men’s 62kg weightlifting class yesterday.

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.

Asiad champion Zhang finished in fourth, 3kg off the podium.

The gold for Kim, who set the ExCel arena alight with his showmanship, was North Korea’s second in as many days after Om Yun-Chol produced a

stunning upset in the men’s 56kg class on Sunday.

But unlike his teammate 24 hours earlier, Kim truly set the ExCel arena alight with his demonstrative showmanship.

Each time he set foot on the podium, the North Korean grinned at the cheering crowd, a roar as he approached the barbell eliciting similar grunts back from the 6,000 fans.

Progressing smoothly from 145kg to 150 and 153 in the snatch, Kim’s reaction after each successful lift was one of unmitigated joy, prompting him to scream, shake his right fist out 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 Chinese lifter, current world champion and the total world record holder with 326kg, had an absolute shocker in the snatch, managing a best of only 140kg, with two botched efforts at 145kg.

Current world and Olympic bronze medallist Eko nailed 145kg to put himself in the picture for a medal, with Figueroa hoisting 140kg.

Kim, the 2010 world champion who finished behind Zhang at last year’s Paris worlds, made no mistake in the clean and jerk.

He came in at 170kg but after failing once at 174kg, managed his second effort to break Zhang’s total world record by 1kg.

Zhang succeeded at 174 to set up a dramatic battle for silver with Figueroa, who only entered the clean and jerk at 177kg, managing to clear it on the third attempt to set an Olympic record.

The Chinese lifter returned to the platform at 178kg but struggled, and saw his final effort come crashing down, along with his medal hopes.

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