Setting new world records and demonstrating one’s will of steel is a really important and inspiring part of weightlifting. At the just-concluded Tokyo Olympics, however, the athletes managed to impress us in more ways than one.
The precious ladies who made history
Hidilyn Diaz, a Filipina weightlifter, won a gold medal in the women’s 55 kg category for her record-breaking 127-kilogram lift in the clean and jerk. That’s amazing, sure, but by doing so, Diaz also became the first-ever Filipino to win Olympic gold for her country.
The generosity of her proud compatriots could count as another record, too:
- billionaire Andrew Lim Tan gifted her a luxury $280,000 apartment in Eastwood City, a prestigious neighborhood in Quezon City,
- he also pledged to pay her $660,000 in a gesture of gratitude;
- President Rodrigo Duterte announced the athlete will get a fully furnished $42,000 apartment in Zamboanga City where Diaz hails from.
A decent compensation for the sacrifices the 30-year-old athlete had to make to achieve such an outstanding goal. She trained in Malaysia for the past two years and didn’t see her family for more than six months due to the pandemic.
Polina Guryeva’s story is similar to Diaz’s: she is the first and only athlete to win a medal for Turkmenistan. Guryeva won silver in the women’s 59 kg competition, lifting 217 kg in total.
The 21-year-old dedicated her victory to the president and the Turkmen people in honor of the 30th anniversary of the independence of Turkmenistan.
The people, in the person of Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the president of the National Olympic Committee, thanked her by gifting her:
- a three-room apartment in the Central Asian country’s capital Ashgabat,
- a Lexus LX570 Sport Plus car,
- and $50,000 in cash.
Akbar Juraev, Tokyo’s youngest Golden Man!
At just 21, Uzbekistan’s Akbar Djuraev won the Olympic gold and the title of the youngest men’s winner at Tokyo 2020.
Truth be told, in the men’s 109 kg category, everyone was expecting to see some epic lifts performed by Armenia’s Simon Martirosyan. Before the Tokyo Games, Martirosyan triumphed at the European and World championships. Djuraev only won the junior championship, but on the world platform, he lifted 193 kg in the snatch, and 237 kg in the clean and jerk. With a total weight of 430 kg, Juraev became the Olympic champion — and a world record-setter.
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Lasha Talakhadze holds a monopoly on the title of world’s strongest man
At the previous Games, the Georgian weightlifter broke the world record in the weight category up to 105 kg. This year, he did the same in the +109 kg category. In the warm-up attempts, Lasha Talakhadze repeated his previous world records, and then, set new ones: 223 kg in the snatch, and 265 kg in the clean and jerk. That’s 488 kg in total, and 47 kg heavier than the silver winner’s result.
Will someone be able to beat these numbers at the next Olympics? That’s not unlikely. But, at 27, Lasha has no plans to leave the sport, and he is certainly capable of aiming higher.
Watch the video below to see how Lasha’s anthropometrics were measured by Oleksiy Torokhtiy, a fellow Olympian weightlifter, who also showed outstanding results in the category up to 105 kg at the London 2012 Games. Next to Lasha Talakhadze, Oleksiy looks slightly less impressive than on the lifting platform.
Do you think Lasha will do 500 kg at the next Games?
Turns out, Olympians also “compete” in some unofficial categories! THE WEIGHTLIFTING online magazine monitored how the Tokyo Olympics have affected the athletes’ popularity on Instagram. What can we say, any social media guru would envy this level of success.
The Top-3 list was dominated by three ladies:
- Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who won silver in the up to 49 kg category, gained 436,000 new followers in just a few days after the event;
- Hidilyn Diaz, a familiar name on the list, gained 207,000 followers in a single night;
- Kuo Hsing-chun, the Taiwanese weightlifter who beat Polina Guryeva to gold, can boast another bonus: 190,000 thousand new followers on Instagram.
Of course, the medals weren’t the only reason for this boost in popularity, since athletes who did not have a podium finish also made the Top-10. And yet, a growing number of subscribers serves as solid proof that a single athlete can influence and inspire so many people around the world.
Ihor Shymechko is a renowned Ukrainian weightlifter. He has represented his country in several Olympic Games, notably in 2008, 2012, and 2016. His impressive career includes winning the European championship in 2009 and earning a silver medal in 2011 in the +105 kg division. Shymechko also earned a Ph.D. from Lviv State University of Physical Culture.