Oleksiy Torokhtiy won a surprise weightlifting gold medal for Ukraine on Monday after the top names in the under-105kg category dropped out or were eliminated from the competition.
Torokhtiy lifted 185kg in the snatch and 227kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 412kg, just one 1kg more than silver medalist Navab Nasirshelal of Iran.
Poland’s Bartlomiej Bonk got bronze with 410kg, putting all three medalists within a 2kg range.
Three-time world champion Marcin Dolega, also of Poland, was eliminated after three failed attempts in the snatch.
The results were modest for a weightlifting competition where world or Olympic records have been broken almost every day. Torokhtiy’s total was 3kg lower than that of under-94kg champion Ilya Ilyin of Kazakhstan.
The Ukrainian benefited from the fact that the top-ranked competitors did not compete.
Defending champion Andrei Aramnau of Belarus, did not travel to London, citing a leg injury.
Beijing silver medalist Dmitry Klokov and last year’s world champion Khadzhimurat Akkaev, both Russians, withdrew at the last moment, citing injuries.
Torokhtiy acknowledged the result might have been different if the Russians had competed.
“I think we will have a chance to compete again and then we’ll see who is the strongest,” he said.
Akkaev and Russian head coach David Rigert appeared at a press conference later in an apparent attempt to dispel rumors that the late withdrawals were related to doping suspicions.
Akkaev said he had emergency back surgery in London on Aug. 2 on a herniated disk. On Rigert’s suggestion, he lifted his shirt, removed a brace and unveiled a bandage on his lower back.
Klokov’s situation was less clear. The official competition documents said he could not compete because he had injured his back, but Rigert said it was his right knee.