INCHEON, South Korea (AFP) – China dominated the Asian Games weightlifting and their toughest woman Zhou Lulu outshone the world’s strongest man to round off a week of scintillating record-breaking action.
Gentle giant Zhou raised the heaviest single weight ever recorded by a woman weightlifter on Friday just before Iran’s man mountain Behdad Salimi could not muster the strength to better his own world mark.
Salimi attempted a new snatch mark of 215kg but fell short. Zhou stunned watchers by lifting a colossal 192kg in the clean and jerk, equalling the 334kg combined world record. She insisted she “could have done better.”
“I’m not satisfied with that. It was only so-so, “ she told AFP after lifting 142kg in the snatch, 4kg below her 2102 Olympic Games performance when she also won gold.
Despite an enormous 140kg (308lb) frame and fearsome stage presence screaming “Qing Song!” (relax!) at the bar before every lift, 26-year-old Zhou said: “I’m just an ordinary girl. I’m a Pisces so I’m a bit of a romantic. I like buying pretty things.”
Her Weibo microblog account in China is packed with posts about “What age should I get married?” and phrases such as “I am a peach girl”.
She says she loves shopping with her friends, but normally just goes along for fun as she seldom can “find anything to fit me”.
Salimi, a 171kg giant, still smashed every Asian Games record in the book with successful lifts of 210kg (snatch), 255kg (clean and jerk) for a total of 465kg.
China won seven of the 15 golds on offer but it was the North Koreans who made the most noise.
Pocket-rockets Om Yun-Chol (56kg) and Kim Un-Guk (62kg) got them off to flying start by claiming golds and four new world records between them.
Three went to Kim in quick succession as a large crowd, including pro-unification South Koreans tried to raise the roof in the Moonlight Festival Gardens Arena.
It was just the start of an astonishing week that saw an avalanche of new records set.
In all there were a staggering 12 world records, 46 Asian Games records and 16 Asian records set.
By comparison, at the London Olympics, regarded as one of the greatest weightlifting events in the history of the sport, only eight world records were broken.
North Korea finished it off with two further golds from their women and another world mark.
Taiwan’s women’s lifters made a huge impact by winning two golds with record-breaking performances from Hsu Shu-ching (53kg) and Lin Tzu-chi (63kg).
Kazakhstan and Iran won one gold each.
There were some delightfully touching moments in a supremely entertaining week.
South Korea’s Kim Min-Jae hugged his eight-month old baby on the medal podium after a surprise silver in Thursday’s men’s 94kg.
And Kazakhstan’s Zhazira Zhapparkul endeared herself to the crowd by hugging the weights affectionately and planting a big kiss on them after her final, successful lift in the women’s 75kg class.
But the final accolade has to go to Qatar’s gallant “three musketeers” who took the Olympic ideal of “it’s not the winning but the taking part” to the limit.
They all finished last in their weight groups, and by some distance.
Essa Saleh Al Buainain (77kg) and Hamdan Hamad Almarri (94kg) recorded the lowest total combined lifts, by a man or woman in this Asiad with 140kg each.
The next lowest total lifted was by a 53kg Mongolian woman who hoisted 145kg, despite weighing in at 40kg slimmer than the rotund Almarri.