North Korea stuns mainland China in men's weightlifting
By Karl Ritter ,APLONDON -- The showdown between North Korea and China in the men's weightlifting competition hasn't turned out as expected — North Korea is winning. And in a big way.
August 1, 2012, 12:41 am TWN
Kim Un Guk of North Korea outclassed Chinese rival Zhang Jie in the men's 62-kilogram category Monday to grab his country's second weightlifting gold in London and obliterated Zhang's world record in the process.
As if that wasn't enough, Zhang — the 2011 world champion — finished off the podium after spectacular performances by silver medalist Oscar Figueroa Mosquera of Colombia and Indonesia's Eko Yuli Irawan, who took bronze.
Kim, 23, stood in military salute as the North Korean flag was raised in the ExCeL center for the second consecutive day.
On Sunday, North Korea's Om Yun Chol finished ahead of a Chinese opponent to win the gold medal in the 56-kg division, lifting three times his body weight in the clean and jerk for an Olympic record.
Like Chol, Kim gave credit to North Korea's leader.
“The secret is nothing but the support and encouragement from our supreme leader chairman Kim Jong Un, because he expects so much from all our athletes, and he expects the highest performance from all our athletes. That's the secret,” Kim said.
Asked if North Korea could challenge China as the dominant weightlifting team at these Olympics, Kim leaned in and uttered, “Yes,” in English.
Kim was world champion in 2010 but lost the crown to Zhang last year. He got his revenge in London.
Pumped up with confidence, he did a victory dance already after the snatch, where he lifted 153 kg in his third attempt, equaling the world record and setting a new Olympic mark.
Zhang only managed 140 kg in the snatch, failing two attempts at 145 kg, putting him virtually out of contention for the gold medal heading into the clean and jerk.
Kim stayed strong in the clean and jerk — normally his weaker lift — equaling Zhang's 174 kg for a new world record total of 327 kg. Zhang's old record stood at 326 kg.
Zhang failed two attempts at 178 kg and was overtaken first by Eko and then by Figueroa, who cleared 177 kg on his last attempt, a new Olympic record in the clean and jerk.
“I wasn't good enough today. My opponent performed well,” Zhang said. “I am tired and I want to go home.”
China is doing better in the women's competition where it has two gold medals after Li Xueying crushed all opposition Monday in the 58-kg class.
The 22-year-old Li lifted 108 kg in the snatch and 138 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 246 kg. The snatch and total weights were Olympic records.
Pimsiri Sirikaew of Thailand got the silver medal and Yulia Kalina of Ukraine took bronze. World champion Nastassia Novikava of Belarus ended up in seventh place.
If there were style points awarded in weightlifting, Li would have gotten top marks.
Many lifters hobble around on the platform before steadying up to get the judges approval. Not Li. She rose from the squat with both feet firmly planted on the ground, holding the barbell perfectly still above her head.
The women's 58-kg category also marked host nation Britain's first appearance in the weightlifting competition, with 18-year-old Zoe Smith participating in the “B” group of lower-ranked lifters.
The decibel level in the weightlifting arena reached a new high as Smith set a British record in the clean and jerk, a result that put her in 12th place after the competition in the “A” group was over.