Iran’s Sohrab Moradi yesterday broke weightlifting’s longest-standing world record on his way to gold in the men’s 94kg class at the Asian Games.
Moradi hoisted 189kg in the competition’s opening discipline to better the snatch record of 188kg set in 1999 by Greece’s Akakios Kakiasvilis.
Moradi, who was suspended for two years in 2013 for testing positive for banned painkiller methadone, but returned to win Olympic gold in Rio, now has a complete set of 94kg world records that are to remain on the books forever.
After the Asian Games, all the sport’s weight classes are to change ahead of the Olympic qualifying cycle beginning at November’s World Weightlifting Championships.
Moradi already owned the marks for the clean and jerk (233kg) and total weight (417kg) in the men’s light heavyweight division, which he set at the World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California, last year.
“I really wanted to break the world record, as it was the only one I didn’t have and this was my last chance,” Moradi told reporters.
“I feel very happy to know that my name will always remain on all the 94kg world records,” added Moradi, who has always claimed that he is 100 percent clean and has said that it was a complete mystery how the methadone got into his sample.
He is now to step up to the new 96kg class.
“My next goal is the world championships, and after that to put on a good show at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he said.
Moradi just failed with an attempt at 234kg, which would have bettered his own world records for the clean and jerk and total lifts.
However, he did have the consolation of a new Asian Games record total of 410kg — smashing the long-standing mark of 400kg set by Bakytbek Ahtemov of Kazakhstan in Busan 2002 — after a clean and jerk of 221kg.
Qatar’s Fares Elbakh came second on 381kg and proved a fan favorite, as he was surrounded by a huge crowd of giggling teenage girls, with whom he posed for pictures, after the medals ceremony.
“This is great. I love all my fans,” Elbakh said. “I’m having a great time.”
It was Qatar’s first weightlifting medal of the Asian Games and came after Iran’s other great lifter in the competition, 85kg world record-holder Kianoush Rostami, failed three times to clean and jerk 220kg.
Kianoush was stepping up from 85kg to 94kg for these Games and, despite lying second after the snatch, he went home without a medal, leaving Elbakh grateful.
“I expected I could win a medal, but didn’t think it would be silver,” Elbakh said, after the expected Iranian one-two failed to materialize.
Moradi said he felt sorry for his compatriot.
“We trained together and Kianoush was with me on the podium at 85kg many times. I hope we can both be together again in the medals at 96kg,” he said.
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