Rivals chip away at China dominance in weightlifting
By William James
LONDON (Reuters) - The rise and fall of steel-loaded barbells on the London Olympic weightlifting platform decided 15 gold medals, rewrote eight world records and revealed a challenge to China's dominance.
Five titles put China on top but after winning eight in Beijing, losses to North Korean and Kazakh lifters will rankle in a squad where anything less than gold is a disappointment.
After winning China's fifth and final gold medal, women's super heavyweight champion Zhou Lulu summed up the team's performance: "Mission unaccomplished."
North Korea's 20-year-old Om Yun-chol threw down the gauntlet early, winning the first of his country's three gold medals with a stunning world record 168kg clean and jerk lift that beat China's Wu Jingbiao on the second day of competition.
On their way to winning four gold medals, Kazakhstan produced the only lifter from Beijing to retain an Olympic title, when the flamboyant Ilya Ilyin put in a flawless performance to set two world records in the men's 94 kg class.
"I love my life, I love to work, I love training and I give it everything," he said.
"All this makes the athlete which is Ilya Ilyin. I give my life to the sport and I love bringing joy to people."
LIGHT LUNCH Continued...