First Published: 2004-08-26

Iran's Rezazadeh win second Olympic gold

Herculean effort wins Rezazadeh second straight Olympic weightlifting gold by lifting new world record of 263.5kg.


Middle East Online

By John Crean - ATHENS

Rezazadeh is the 'World's Strongest Man'

Iran's Hossein Rezazadeh proved himself a modern-day Hercules by lifting a new world record of 263.5kg, roughly equivalent to two fridge freezers, on his way to winning his second straight Olympic weightlifting gold on Wednesday.

The 'World's Strongest Man' flattened the opposition underfoot with an incredible display of power-lifting in the superheavyweight showdown.

Iranian icon Rezazadeh, a colossus who stands over six-foot tall and weighs just under 163kg, won with a total of 472.5kg which equalled his own world record.

Viktors Scerbatihs of Latvia took the silver with 455kg, a stunning 17.5kg behind, with Velichko Cholakov of Bulgaria in third with 447.5kg. It was Latvia's first ever Olympic weightlifting medal.

Two-time world champion Rezazadeh, who has ruled over his fellow superheavies since winning gold in Sydney four years ago, sealed his fame with the clean and jerk world record lift of 263.5kg.

Having failed once, he summoned up extra power by praying to an Islamic prophet. This time the lift was good and the hordes of Iranians in the arena shouted as one in appreciation of their hero.

Rezazadeh, 26, bent down and kissed the wooden lifting platform to signal the arrival of a new Hercules in Greece.

Man-mountain Rezazadeh captivated the crowd with sensational lifting combined with showmanship during the snatch.

With a prayer to the prophet, whose name was emblazoned across his chest, Rezazadeh lifted the bar to the heavens on three occasions.

After taking the lead with an awesome lift of 210kg, he nodded his head and blew out his cheeks in joy before kissing the Iran flag on his vest and raising a single finger to signify that he was number one.

He was just 2.5kg ahead of Cholakov after the snatch but his opponents knew that the mighty Iranian was well on his way to retaining his Olympic title.

Germany's Rony Weller, the people's favourite after explosive medal-winning displays at four previous Olympics, was forced out of the competition with an injury after the snatch section.

The 35-year-old, one of the most decorated lifters in Olympic history with a gold, two silvers and a bronze to his name, was bidding for a record fifth medal.

But the German hurt himself when lifting 195kg and pulled out after making one more attempt.

There was a shock before the start with the non-appearance of 'soldier of fortune' Jaber Saeed Salem representing Qatar.

The highly-rated Jaber, who as Yani Marchokov moved to Qatar with seven Bulgarian teammates for a reported fee of 1 million US dollars, was world champion in 2001 and won the snatch competition in last year's event.

The Qatar-based Bulgarians have a habit of failing to appear at major events fuelling speculation about their training methods.

Two competitors pulled out of the 2000 Sydney Olympics at the 11th hour and another withdrew from the 2002 Asian Games because of a virus.

The oil-rich state had been hoping that their weightlifters would repay their huge investment with a first ever gold medal in Athens.

But their hopes were dashed when world champion Asaad Said Saif Asaad, who as Angel Popov won the 1999 Junior World Championship for Bulgaria, bombed out of the heavyweight division on Tuesday after a mystifying performance.

Mohamed Yousef Al Mana, the president of the Qatar Weightlifting Federation, recently said that there was no question of weightlifters from Qatar taking drugs to enhance their performance.


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