Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin, powered by a diet of horse meat, won gold in the men’s under-94kg weightlifting division on Saturday, setting two world records as he galloped past the challenge of Russia’s Alexandr Ivanov with a flawless display.
After completing all six of the lifts he attempted, Ilyin became the first weightlifter to successfully defend an Olympic title at the London Games, prompting an outpouring of joy from the flag-waving Kazakhstan contingent in the crowd.
“Today, I feel very, very different to what I was four years ago ... the training is not that much different, but the quality of my victory is very different,” Ilyin said.
He also said the Kazakh team’s decision to import horse meat to London had helped.
“I have to be careful with what I eat. Chicken and horse meat are the best foods for weightlifting, good food is very important,” he told reporters.
Ilyin set a world record for the clean and jerk with 233kg and, when combined with a 185kg snatch, also set a world record for the overall total with 418kg — 12kg higher than his total in Beijing.
One of the few lifters to wear a costume bearing his own name, Ilyin won the backing of the neutrals in a packed ExCel Centre with his no nonsense technique and faultless execution.
Whereas other lifters spent time over the bar adjusting their grip and composing themselves, Ilyin simply bowed deeply, walked to the bar and hauled it to shoulder level in almost a single movement, before powering it above his head and locking out his arms.
Although the result rarely looked in doubt, Ivanov had a chance to take top spot and put the pressure on Ilyin with the penultimate lift of the competition, but he was unable to hold the 229kg barbell above his head.
The bronze went to Moldova’s Anatoli Ciricu with a total of 407kg.