Olympic gold for new Shi Zhiyong

  • Reuters, Agencies, RIO DE JANEIRO
  • Updated: Aug 10, 2016 09:05 IST
Shi Zhiyong of China celebrates with his coach after winning gold in 69 kg. (REUTERS)

China’s Shi Zhiyong won the men’s 69kg gold medal and became an Olympic champion just the like the man whose name he was given when he was a teenager.

The older Shi, 36, won the 62kg title at the 2004 Athens Games to become a national hero and is now a government official.

The new Shi won with a 352kg total on Tuesday, edging Turkey’s Daniyar Ismayilov, who made six good lifts, by just one kg.

Izzat Artykov took bronze with a 339kg total, winning a first Olympic weightlifting medal for Kyrgyzstan.

The new Shi, a 22-year-old reigning world champion, was born Shi Lei but his coach had another suggestion.

“I was still young when I left my family to train and my coach gave me the new name. I did not know about the 2004 Olympics at that time,” he said.

“As I grew up I learned all about Shi Zhiyong and I am proud to say we met a few years ago.

“The name means wisdom and courage, and Shi told me that as I had his name I must never give up, and I should become a champion like him.

“I also owe so much to my coach, another great Olympic champion.”

That man is Zhan Xugang, who won gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996 and Sydney four years later.

Shi held off the challenge of Ismayilov, who had finished 13th at the London Games four years ago when competing for his native Turkmenistan.

Bronze medallist Artykov, whose strength has improved enormously over the years, wore a kalpak hat, part of Kyrgyz national costume, to the post-event news conference.

“Do you like it?” he said. “I am proud to wear it, and this medal is great news for everyone in Kyrgyzstan.”

When Artykov first competed at a major international event as a 17-year-old in 2010, the IWF World Championships, he was in the lightest category, 56kg, and finished 23rd with a total of 225kg.

At Riocentro, competing two weight categories higher, he lifted 114kg more.

North Korea’s Kim Myong Hyok, who had finished a close fourth in the World Championships, failed with all his clean and jerk attempts.

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