After two days without competition at the Tokyo International Forum, the weightlifters in the up to 81 kg weight category returned to the barbell. The Chinese Lu Xiaujun (170 kg/204 kg) once again showed his world-class in one of the most competitive weight categories.
The future gold medal winner had to prove his nerves already in the snatch because after an invalid 164 kg the Chinese was briefly forced to move. But Lu had no problem with the following attempts (164 kg and 170 kg) and made them in his usual perfection. The 37-year-old then left no doubt about his dominance in the clean and jerk and showed valid 197 kg followed by 204 kg for the final result before attempting the world record weight of 210 kg. Lu Xiaujun will be able to get over the fact that this burden was a little too heavy for him that day. With now 5 gold medals, the Chinese athletes continue to expand their gold collection and once again underline their supremacy in weightlifting.
There was then a hard battle for silver, which underlined the high-performance density of this weight class. But in the end, the Dominican Zacarias Bonnat (163 kg/204 kg) prevailed with a faultless clean and jerk series. Bonnat thus won the first medal of these Games for his home country and was visibly relieved after managing 204 kg.
It was all or nothing for Nino Pizzolato today. The 24-year-old European champion wanted gold, showed this by high initial loads, true to the motto: “It is not the strongest who wins, but the most persistent”.
But he also needed a little bit of luck which was not one hundred percent on his side on this day. In the end, bronze remained as a deserved reward for the policeman from Rome. Pizzolato thus won the third medal for Italy after Bordignon and Zanni had already presented silver and bronze.
For the American Harrison Maurus (161 kg / 200 kg) the competition began with three valid lifts. After the first sub-discipline, 161 kg was in the rating for him. The 21-year-old top athlete continued this series in the clean and jerk and failed only on the bronze load of 205 kg. The former gymnast achieved the best result of USA Weightlifting and took fourth place at his first Olympic Games. Behind him was the Colombian Brayan Santiago Rodallegas Carvajal (163 kg/196 kg), who placed fifth, directly ahead of the Latvian Ritvars Suharevs (163 kg/195 kg).
Suharevs, probably one of the most diligent athletes in the world and no stranger to his appearances in the German Weightlifting “Bundesliga”, struggled with his technique that day. With sixth place ahead of Nico Müller, he could still be satisfied with his performance.
Müller in seventh place
Nico Müller from Obrigheim got off to a strong start in his second competition at the Olympic Games. After his debut in Rio 2016, he traveled to Tokyo with significantly higher ambitions and could fully rely on the experienced support of his coach, Oliver Caruso. Caruso, himself a medalist at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, did not leave the 27-year-old’s side during his competition. After two valid attempts in the snatch with 155 kg and 159 kg, Müller went for 161 kg, which would have meant a new personal best. The German talent coped with this burden with ease, but the attempt was given invalid due to a controversial jury decision.
A minimal movement in the right elbow, which had already been overlooked in other attempts, was interpreted by the judges as a push. The German started the clean and jerk just as confidently, Müller literally threw 190 kg towards the ceiling of the hall. But also in the second attempt, which Müller mastered confidently, his 195 kg lift was rated invalid. Müller then tried this load again in the third attempt and once again pushed the barbell sovereignly. Together with the coaching team of German Weightlifting, he looked incomprehensibly in the direction of the judges.
Nico Müller, who trains together with Oliver Caruso in Schwarzach, Baden-Württemberg, can nevertheless be more than proud of his performance of 354 kg in the total. He thus achieved the best placing of the German team and cannot attribute the missed chance for a medal solely to his performance on this day.
Two athletes, who had started with medal ambitions, experienced a day to forget.
The performance of Chile’s Arley Mendez (160 kg/ -) did not start according to plan at all. The 2017 world champion brought only one valid snatch attempt into the overall ranking. Mendez then failed in the clean and jetk on all three attempts and likely suffered a thigh injury.
After the first Olympic medal for Turkmenistan, which Polina Guryeva won in the weight class up to 59 kg, her compatriot Rejepay Rejepov (164 kg / -) set out to win another medal for the Turkmen. After a very good snatch, Rejepov developed into a tragic figure in this competition. After two invalid clean and jerk attempts, the Turkmen mastered 198 kg. But even before the “down signal”, the 29-year-old dropped the bar because of his joy and made this attempt invalid. Even a challenge request from the coaching team could not change this decision.
We are now looking forward to the next decision on today’s sixth day of competition. At 12:50 PM German time, the up to 96 kg weight class starts their Olympic event.