A fine Chinese show

Liu Chunhong prepares to attempt a snatch lift of 120 kg for a new World record in the women's 69 kg. She was the toast of the championship as she set five amazing records on a single day . — Pic. AP-

IT mostly went by the form book. As expected, there was no stopping China in the 73rd men's and 16th women's World weightlifting championships in Vancouver, Canada, last month.

IT mostly went by the form book. As expected, there was no stopping China in the 73rd men's and 16th women's World weightlifting championships in Vancouver, Canada, last month.

The final medal count of the all-conquering Chinese, at the end of the nine-day event, stood at 32 — including 21 gold, seven silver and four bronze medals — a good 16 more than what Turkey, led by the peerless Halil Mutlu, could manage even as it finished third behind Iran which had a slightly better share of the total 45 golds that were up for grabs. In fact, the supremacy of the Asian behemoth in the event, which saw a record participation of 636 lifters from 86 countries in a bid to seal the qualifying slots for next year's Olympic Games in Athens, was once again underlined by its women lifters who took the top honours in five of the seven weight categories.

Despite an injury Wang Mingjuan established herself as the 48 kg champion. -- Pic. REUTERS-

In contrast, the Chinese men could dominate only in two divisions and that too in the lower weight classes. With Mutlu having moved over from the 56 kg class to the 62 kg category, the current World champion 23-year-old Wu Meijin had little difficulty in outclassing his rivals in the 56 kg category while Zhang Guozheng also kept his reputation intact as he came past a junior world record breaking effort by Russian Vladislav Lukanin in the clean and jerk of the 69 kg category.

Meijin, incidentally, was assured of a second straight title after he came up with identical lifts, in both the snatch and clean and jerk, which had fetched him the gold in total at Warsaw last year. In the Polish capital, the 23-year-old Chinese had snatched 127.5 kg and jerked 160 kg for a total of 287.5 kg and here again it was an exact repeat, as Meijin put paid to the hopes of his rivals for a second straight year en route to winning three golds.

In snatch, Meijin, who had managed to clear 130 kg in the Asian championships earlier in the year, was followed by Sedat Artuc of Turkey and compatriot Lu Jinbi with 125 kg.

Shichun Shang is ecstatic after lifting 153 kg in the 75 kg clean and jerk. She notched up three World records while bagging the three golds. — Pic. REUTERS-

In the clean and jerk, Chinese Taipei's Wang Shin-Yuan and Romanian Adrian Jigau were second and third behind Meijin. Jigau who had been fifth after the snatch event also took the total silver with 280 kg ahead of Artuc who having jerked only 152.5 kg had to settle for the bronze medal at 277.5 kg.

Mutlu, as he returned to competition after a 20-month-long lay-off due to injury, was clearly a bit rusty though this made no difference in the final standings of 62 kg category, as was earlier predicted. The Turkish icon was matched by Chinese Shi Zhiyong in snatch (147.5 kg) and Henadzi Aliashchuk of Belarus in the clean and jerk (175 kg) but still Mutlu had a healthy 5 kg lead over his rivals in the end as Zhiyong could manage only 170 kg in the clean and jerk. Aliashchuk, in the snatch, had finished third behind Mutlu and Zhiyong with 142.5 kg. For the Turkish legend and the 2000 Sydney Olympic champion, the win in his new category marked his fifth World title, having won the 56 kg gold in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2001.

Likewise, Zhang Guozheng too encountered problems in the 69 kg category as Poland's Arkadiusz Smolka and Russia's Vladislav Lukanin were breathing down his neck, before the Chinese won his second straight World title. This was indeed surprising as the Chinese was expected to enjoy a cake-walk in the absence of the reigning Olympic champion and World record holder Galabin Boevski, who had been banned along with two other Bulgarian lifters earlier in the month for manipulating urine samples meant for a routine out-of-competition dope test. However, with Smolka faring badly in the second part of the show after challenging Zhang with a snatch of 152.5 kg, the 24-year-old Chinese lifter hung on bravely as he jerked 192.5 kg for a total of 345 kg. This despite the fact that Lukanin, who still has another year at the junior-level, did match the effort of Zhang in the clean and jerk and created a new junior world record for the event. Lee Bae-Young of South Korea, the bronze medallist in snatch with 150 kg, too did finish with a total of 340 kg but was forced to be satisfied with a second bronze as Lukanin was awarded the silver on account of his lower body weight.

Natalia Skakun, the eventual winner of the 63 kg title, raises her arms in celebration after lifting 138 kg. This was a World record in clean and jerk. — Pic. AP-

Busan Asian Games winner Sergey Filimonov of Kazakhstan was the pre-championship favourite in the 77 kg weight division, but after the 28-year-old failed in all his three attempts in snatch, the gold in this class was taken by Iranian Falahati Mohammed Nejad with a superb show in the clean and jerk. The 27-year-old Nejad was placed only eighth after snatch, but what still helped the Iranian to the top of the podium was his jerk of 202.5 kg. Li Hongli had raised hopes in the Chinese camp as he won the snatch gold with a clearance of 162.5 kg but in the end he could finish only fourth, managing just 190 kg in the clean and jerk. This also paved the way for Armenian Gevory Davytan to end up second ahead of Reyhan Arabacioglu of Turkey. Davytan had efforts of 160 kg in snatch and 195 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 355 kg and eventually earned the total silver on lower body weight than his immediate Turkish rival.

In the absence of Dimas Pyrros of Greece, the golds in the 85 kg class were shared by Romanian Valeriu Calancea (clean and jerk and total) and Australian Sergo Chakhoyan (snatch). Like Nejad in the 77 kg category, Calancea was only placed eighth after the snatch round, won by Chakhoyan with a lift of 172.5 kg. But then, with the Australian unable to clear anything more than 205 kg in the clean and jerk, left Calancea an easy winner of the two remaining golds as the Romanian came good with a jerk of 215 kg. Yuan Aijun (China) who had been fourth after snatch, also managed a total of 382.5 kg but had to settle for the silver as Calancea weighed lower than the Chinese lifter. Chakhoyan finished third in total with 377.5 kg.

Bulgaria, robbed of a possible gold in the 69 kg class due to the suspension of Galabin Boevski, struck it rich in the 94 kg category through Milen Dobrev, who won the snatch gold with 185 kg and the silver in the clean and jerk with 220 kg before finishing with a winning total of 405 kg. The clean and jerk gold in this section was taken by Moldova's Vadim Vakarciuc (222.5 kg), but the Moldovan had to yield the silver in total to Turkey's Hakan Yilmaz on body weight after both finished with an identical total of 400 kg. Alexey Petrov (Russia) and Pavel Harkavy (Belarus) were the winners of the silver and bronze medals in snatch with efforts of 185 kg and 182.5 kg respectively. But both had a poor clean and jerk round and were thus forced way down the order in the fight for the minor placings in total.

Vladimir Smorchkov of Russia began well in the 105 kg class, winning the snatch gold on lower body weight against Qatar's Assad Saif Assad even as the 1999 and 2002 World champion Denis Gotfrid (Ukraine) took the bronze. But Smorchkov, Assad and Gotfrid were unable to carry the same form into the next round leaving Bulgaria's Alan Tsagaev, Turkey's Bunyami Sudas and Russia's Gleb Pisarevskiy to claim the first three places in the clean and jerk. However, with Assad coming in fourth, the Qatari was successful in giving his country the gold in total with 422.5 kg ahead of Smorchkov (417.5 kg) and Bunyami Sudas (415 kg).

Wu Meijin had little difficulty in outclassing his rivals in the men's 56 kg. — Pic. AP-

The expected clean sweep by Iranian Hossein Rezazadeh did not materialise in the +105 kg category. But after being surprised by Salem Jaber (Qatar) and Artem Udachyn (Ukraine) in the snatch, the Iranian World champion did gather his wits as he recoiled in fine fashion to take the clean and jerk and total golds. Rezazadeh as he came back roaring had a jerk of 250 kg and this was enough for the 25-year-old to gain a second straight World title with a total of 457.5 kg. Udachyn took the total silver with 450 kg and Bulgarian Velichko Cholakov the bronze with 447.5 kg.

Already acknowledged as world-beaters in the women's section, the Chinese were on song in all but two of the seven weight categories. The most outstanding of them all being 18-year-old Liu Chunhong who created five new world records before gaining the three golds in the 69 kg class. It was undoubtedly a classy show as the Beijing-based student effortlessly erased the existing marks in snatch twice and the clean and jerk once before setting a new standard in total.

And all this at the expense of the reigning World record holder Pawina Thongsuk of Thailand and the former World champion Valentina Popova of Russia. Liu Chunhong as she came through an easy winner had a best of 120 kg in snatch and 150 kg in the clean and jerk as she compiled a record total of 270 kg. Eszter Krutzler of Hungary who took the silver in the two apparatuses and the total was behind by 7.5 kg while Popova took the three bronzes at stake ahead of Thongsuk.

The ball for the fine Chinese show, which followed, was set rolling by the 2002 junior World champion, Wang Mingjuan, who despite being forced to retire due to injury after her first attempt in clean and jerk still won the 48 kg class with an amazing 10 kg difference over her immediate rival. Having established herself in the forefront of the pack with a snatch of 90 kg, the young Chinese lifter had one good lift of 110 kg in the clean and jerk before injury forced her out of the competition. Aree Wiratthaworn of Thailand took the second spot, after finishing outside the medal bracket in snatch, in clean and jerk and total edging out Nurcan Taylan (Turkey) to the third place. Taylan, the bronze medallist in snatch, finished 2.5 kg behind her Thai rival with a total of 187.5 kg after Izabela Dragneva (Bulgaria) who had taken the silver medal in snatch faded away in the second half of the competition.

Halil Mutlu in a celebratory mood after winning the 62 kg class. — Pic. REUTERS-

Thailand's Polsak Udomporn upset all calculations as she took the top honours in the 53 kg category, on body weight, after she and North Korea's Ri Song-Hui, finished with an identical total of 222.5 kg. The 2002 World champion and the Busan Asian Games gold-medallist, Hui, had a bad round in snatch being able to garner only the bronze behind Udomporn and fellow-Thai Kuntanean Junpim. And then, though the North Korean lifter did top the clean and jerk with a comfortable margin, she was unable to overcome the total posted by Udomporn. Junpim's efforts in snatch (97.5 kg), clean and jerk (120 kg) and total (217.5 kg), interestingly, were better than the existing World junior records.

Sun Caiyan, expectedly, extended her reign as the World champion of the 58 kg class for a second consecutive year as she finished way ahead of Indonesia's Patmawati and Turkey's Aylin Dasdelen. The Chinese lifter had efforts of 100 kg in snatch and 125 kg in clean and jerk as she proved her class with a total of 225 kg. Patmawati had three silvers in her collection as she finished with a total of 217.5 kg ahead of Dasdelen (210 kg). Incidentally, Dasdelen had failed to win a medal in either of the two individual apparatuses and her bronze-medal effort in total was marked by the failure of Maria Escobar (Ecuador) to perform creditably in the clean and jerk after gaining the silver in snatch. The bronze for clean and jerk in this category was accounted by Canada's Maryse Turcotte, much to the joy of the home team fans.

Apart from Udomporn, the other lifter to rob the Chinese of a certain gold was Natalia Skakun of Ukraine, the eventual winner of the 63 kg class title. The 22-year-old achieved this feat by bringing home a new World record effort in clean and jerk (138 kg) and pushing China's Liu Xia to the second spot with a total of 247.5 kg. The snatch in this category also saw a new world record as Hanna Batsiushka (Belarus) pushed herself to a lift of 113.5 kg but being able to gain only the sixth place in clean and jerk, Hanna could only end up third in total.

The Chinese were back with a vengeance as they struck the 75 kg and +75 kg category golds through Shichun Shang and Ding Meiyuan respectively. Shang as she demolished the 75 kg field was also able to notch up three new world records as she finished way ahead of Egyptian Nahla Ramadan and Bulgaria's Slaveyka Ruzhinska. The 24-year-old Chinese lifter had efforts of 120 kg in snatch and 153 kg in clean and jerk as she won over Ramadan with a clear 10 kg margin.

In the +75 kg class, the fight for the top honours was expected to be a keen affair between Ding, the reigning World champion Agata Wrobel (Poland) and the 2001 winner Albina Khotmich (Russia). However, it proved to be virtually a one-horse race after the Chinese heavyweight stomped her way ahead with a new World record lift in snatch (137.5 kg). Eventually, she was to finish an easy winner with a total of 300 kg ahead of Albina after a golden jerk of 162.5 kg. The Russian had a total of 290 kg as she took the silver ahead of Ukraine's Olha Korobka. Agata Wrobel was hardly in the picture at any time of the competition and could only finish a poor seventh, overall. The Chinese, certainly, would be hard to beat in Athens.

The results:

Men: 56 kg: Snatch: 1. Wu Meijin (Chn), 127.5 kg, 2. Sedat Artuc (Tur), 125.0, 3. Lu Jinbi (Chn), 125.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Wu Meijin (Chn), 160.0, 2. Wang Shin-Yuan (Tpe), 155.0, 3. Adrian Jigau (Rom), 155.0. Total: 1. Wu Meijin (Chn), 287.5, 2. Adrian Jigau (Rom), 3. Sedat Artuc (Tur), 277.5.

62 kg: Snatch: 1. Halil Mutlu (Tur), 147.5, 2. Shi Zhiyong (Chn), 147.5, 3. Henadzi Aliashchuk (Blr), 142.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Halil Mutlu (Tur), 175.0, 2. Henadzi Aliashchuk (Blr), 175.0, 3. Shi Zhiyong (Chn), 170.0. Total: 1. Halil Mutlu (Tur), 322.5, 2. Shi Zhiyong (Chn), 317.5, 3. Henadzi Aliashchuk (Blr), 317.5.

69 kg: Snatch: 1. Zhang Guozheng (Chn), 152.5, 2. Arkadiusz Smolka (Pol), 152.5, 3. Lee Bae-Young (Kor), 150.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Vladislav Lukanin (Rus), 192.5, 2. Zhang Guozheng (Chn), 192.5, 3. Lee Bae-Young (Kor), 190.0. Total: 1. Zhang Guozheng (Chn), 345.0, 2. Vladislav (Rus), 340.0, 3. Lee Bae-Young (Kor), 340.0.

77 kg: Snatch: 1. Li Hongli (Chn), 162.5, 2. Viacheslav Ershov (Rus), 162.5, 3. Gevorg Davtyan (Arm), 160.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Falahati Mohammed Nejad (Iri), 202.5, 2. Gevorg Davtyan (Arm), 195.0, 3. Mehmet Yilmaz (Tur), 195.0. Total: 1. Falahati Mohammed Nejad (Iri), 357.5, 2. Gevorg Davtyan (Arm), 355.0, 3. Reyhan Arabacioglu (Tur), 355.0.

85 kg: Snatch: 1. Sergo Chakhoyan (Aus), 172.5, 2. Erdal Sunar (Tur), 172.5, 3. Aliaksandr Anishchanka (Blr), 172.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Valeriu Calancea (Rom), 215.0, 2. Yuan Aijun (Chn), 212.5, 3. Sergo Chakhoyan (Aus), 205.0. Total: 1. Valeriu Calancea (Rom), 382.5, 2. Yuan Aijun (Chn), 382.5, 3. Sergo Chakhoyan (Aus), 377.5.

Zhang Guozheng, who won the overall title, in the 69 kg category. — Pic. REUTERS-

94 kg: Snatch: 1. Milen Dobrev (Bul), 185.0, 2. Alexey Petrov (Rus), 185.0, 3. Pavel Harkavy (Blr), 182.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Vadim Vacarciuc (Mda), 222.5, 2. Milen Dobrev (Bul), 220.0, 3. Hakan Yilmaz (Ruk), 220.0. Total: 1. Milen Dobrev (Bul), 405.0, 2. Hakan Yilmaz (Tur), 400.0, 3. Vadim Vacarciuc (Mda), 400.0.

105 kg: Snatch: 1. Vladimir Smorchkov (Rus), 195.0, 2. Assad Saif Assad (Qat), 195.0, 3. Denis Gotfrid (Ukr), 192.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Alan Tsagaev (Bul), 235.0, 2. Bunyami Sudas (Tur), 230.0, 3. Gleb Pisarevskiy (Rus), 227.5. Total: 1. Assad Saif Assad (Qat), 422.5, 2. Vladimir Smorchkov (Rus), 417.5, 3. Bunyami Sudas (Tur), 415.0.

+105 kg: Snatch: 1. Salem Jaber (Qat), 210.0, 2. Artem Udachyn (Ukr), 210.0, 3. Hossein Rezazadeh (Iri), 207.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Hossein Rezazadeh (Iri), 250.0, 2. Viktors Scerbatihs (Lat), 245.0, 3. Velichko Cholakov (Bul), 242.5. Total: 1. Hossein Rezazadeh (Iri), 457.5, 2. Artem Udachyn (Ukr), 450.0, 3. Velichko Cholakov (Bul), 447.5.

Women: 48 kg: Snatch: 1. Wang Mingjuan (Chn), 90.0, 2. Izabela Dragneva (Bul), 85.0, 3. Nurcan Taylan (Tur), 85.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Wang Mingjuan (Chn), 110.0, 2. Wiratthaworn Aree (Tha), 107.5, 3. Rosmainar (Ina), 105.0. Total: 1. Wang Mingjuan (Chn), 200.0, 2. Wiratthaworn Aree (Tha), 190.0, 3. Nurcan Taylan (Tur), 187.5.

53 kg: Snatch: 1. Polsak Udomporn (Tha), 100.0, 2. Kuntatean Junpim (Tha), 97.5, 3. Ri Song-Hui (Prk), 95.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Ri Song-Hui (Prk), 127.5, 2. Polsak Udomporn (Tha), 122.5, 3. Kuntatean Junpim (Tha), 120.0. Total: 1. Polsak Udomporn (Tha), 222.5, 2. Ri Song-Hui (Prk), 222.5, 3. Kuntatean Junpim (Tha), 217.5.

Milen Dobrev finished with a winning total of 405 kg in the 94 kg competition. — Pic. AFP-

58 kg: Snatch: 1. Sun Caiyan (Chn) 100.0, 2. Patmawati (Ina), 97.5, 3. Maria Escobar (Ecu), 92.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Sun Caiyan (Chn), 125.0, 2. Patmawati (Ina), 120.0, 3. Maryse Turcotte (Can), 120.0. Total: 1. Sun Caiyan (Chn), 225.0, 2. Patmawati (Ina), 217.5, 3. Aylin Dasdelen (Tur), 210.0.

63 kg: Snatch: 1. Hanna Batsiushka (Blr), 113.5, 2. Natalia Skakun (Ukr), 110.0, 3. Liu Xia (Chn), 107.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Natalia Skakun (Ukr), 138.0, 2. Liu Xia (Chn), 137.5, 3. Xiong Meiying (Chn), 135.0. Total: 1. Natalia Skakun (Ukr), 247.5, 2. Liu Xia (Chn), 245.0, 3. Hanna Batsiushka (Blr), 240.0.

69 kg: Snatch: 1. Liu Chunhong (Chn), 120.0, 2. Valentina Popova (Rus), 117.5, 3. Eszter Krutzler (Hun), 117.5. Clean & Jerk: 1. Liu Chunhong (Chn), 150.0, 2. Eszter Krutzler (Hun), 145.0, 3. Valentina Popova (Rus), 140.0. Total: 1. Liu Chunhong (Chn), 270.0, 2. Eszter Krutzler (Hun), 262.5, 3. Valentina Popova (Rus), 257.5.

75 kg: Snatch: 1. Shang Shichun (Chn), 120.0, 2. Nahla Ramadan (Egy), 117.5, 3. Sule Sahbaz (Tur), 115.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Shang Shichun (Chn), 153.0, 2. Nahla Ramadan (Egy), 145.0, 3. Slaveyka Ruzhinska (Bul), 140.0. Total: 1. Shang Shichun (Chn), 272.5, 2. Nahla Ramadan (Egy), 262.5, 3. Slaveyka Ruzhinska (Bul), 252.5.

+75 kg: Snatch: 1. Ding Meiyuan (Chn), 137.5, 2. Albina Khomich (Rus), 130.0, 3. Olha Korobka (Ukr), 125.0. Clean & Jerk: 1. Ding Meiyuan (Chn), 162.5, 2. Albina Khomich (Rus), 160.0, 3. Jang Mi-Ran (Kor), 157.5. Total: 1. Ding Meiyuan (Chn), 300.0, 2. Albina Khomich (Rus), 290.0, 3. Olha Korobka (Ukr), 277.5.