Asian Games

North Korean weightlifter sets world record in Asian Games as Hidilyn Diaz places 4th


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North Korean weightlifter sets world record in Asian Games as Hidilyn Diaz places 4th

CHAMPION. North Korea's Kim Il Gyong reacts during the women's 59kg category of the weightlifting competitions in the 19th Asian Games.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/REUTERS

Only 20 years old, North Korea's Kim Il Gyong sets a new world record and a pair of Asian Games marks to capture the gold in the women's 59kg division, where Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz finishes fourth

HANGZHOU, China – North Korea maintained an eye-catching display in weightlifting in the Asian Games on Monday, October 2, when Kim Il Gyong lifted 111kg, setting a world record for the snatch on her way to gold in the women’s 59kg category.

Kim’s lift, achieved with the 20-year-old’s third snatch of the women’s final, eclipsed the previous record of 110kg set in 2021 by Chinese Taipei star weightlifter, Kuo Hsing-chun, 29, who also competed on Monday.

The snatch is one half of the final where athletes hoist the bar up in one movement. In the other half, the clean and jerk, athletes first lift the bar up to sit on their shoulders and then attempt to push it above their heads in two movements.

Medals are awarded according to aggregate of best lifts in snatch and clean and jerk.

Kim, who like several of her rivals wore knee supports and a large lifting belt, had suggested she was serious about winning early on by opting to make her first lift in the snatch at 103kg, a weight so high only one of her rivals, China’s Luo Shifang, was still lifting.

Current world champion Luo, who was strongly supported by the several hundred-strong crowd in the venue on the southern outskirts of Hangzhou, matched Kim initially but then opted for 107kg with her third snatch, leaving the stage set for Kim to make her world record.

In the clean and jerk, though appearing to grimace slightly more than in the snatch, Kim also made all three lifts. Her third lift was 135kg, 5kg shy of Kuo’s world record set in 2019, but enough for a new Games record.

Her total weight lifted for the competition came to 246kg, also a new Games record, but 1kg off Kuo’s world record set in 2021. In a thrilling finale and roared on by the crowd, Luo attempted 140kg on her final clean and jerk lift which would have won it for her and equalled Kuo’s world records. But it was not to be and she ended with silver.

Tokyo Olympic champion, Jakarta Asian Games champion, and five-time world champion Kuo was, unusually for her, a little way off in third, after a best lift of 101kg.

Kuo, who is hailed in Taiwan for having come through a tough upbringing in a poor, single-parent family to achieve success, betrayed signs of an injury as she appeared tentative and conservative in her weight choices.

In the clean and jerk, she was likewise some way off Kim and Luo and only just held onto bronze after failing her final lift of 128kg.

Afterwards, a tearful Kuo said an injury had indeed affected her. She said she hoped she could keep going towards her main goal of retaining her Olympic title in Paris next year.

The Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz, the women’s 55kg gold medalist in the Tokyo Games, finished fourth with a 223kg total.

This week, Kim’s teammates and fellow weightlifters Ri Song Gum and Kang Hyong Yong, also set women’s world records.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said last month it was happy for the North Korean flag to keep flying in the Hangzhou Asian Games despite it being banned over the country’s non-compliance with global anti-doping rules.

The World Anti-Doping Agency banned the flag at all major sporting events, outside the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in 2021 after deeming that North Korea had failed to implement an effective testing program. –

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