Phuket World Cup Wraps Up Paris 2024 Qualifying with Unforgettable Moments and Surprises

GAWSF Partner's News:

The recently concluded IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand, marked a thrilling and well-organized competition that will be etched in the memories of weightlifting enthusiasts. However, the upcoming weightlifting event at the Olympic Games in Paris promises to be a significantly different experience, owing to three key factors.

One of the highlights in Thailand was the unforgettable showdown between two Indonesian athletes, Rahmat Erwin and Rizki Juniansyah. After leading the Olympic rankings for an impressive 482 days and setting world records along the way, Rahmat was unexpectedly surpassed by his teammate Rizki in the final moments of the qualifying period for Paris 2024. Similar situations unfolded for other weightlifters, such as China's Jiang Huihua, Philippines' Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz, Ecuador's Tokyo silver medallist Tamara Salazar, and Armenia's multiple European champion Samuel Gasparyan, as they were overtaken by their fellow teammates in a manner both dramatic and significant.

Rizki Juniansyah (INA)

 

These captivating head-to-head battles were a unique feature of the Phuket competition due to the limitation of one athlete per weight category imposed for the Paris Olympics. The World Cup served as the final opportunity for athletes to outshine their teammates and secure a spot at the prestigious event.

The People's Republic of Korea (PRK) demonstrated their dominance by claiming eight victories and setting as many world records, with seven of them achieved by female athletes. Over the past seven months, PRK has established itself as the strongest weightlifting nation since its return to international competition after a prolonged absence caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, their late entry into the Olympic qualifying program rendered their athletes ineligible for Paris, adding a unique dynamic to the competition.

Chong Song Ri (PRK)

The World Cup's intensity was further amplified by the number of red lights and bombouts witnessed. Athletes pushed themselves to their limits in an effort to climb the rankings, primarily in the B Groups. Such circumstances will not occur in Paris, as there will be no B Groups.

Interestingly, the cutoff point between the 10th-placed lifter and those below remained relatively stable across weight categories, with minimal changes. The largest upward move was a mere 3kg in the women's 59kg category, while the cutoff in two categories remained unchanged from before the World Cup.

Despite these patterns, two athletes managed to make remarkable leaps from the B Group to qualify for Paris. Korea's Yu Dongju climbed eight places in the 89kg category, while Turkmenistan's Davranbek Hasanbayev surged from 26th to eighth place in the 102kg category.

Davranbek Hasanbayev (TKM)

The event showcased exceptional performances from several individual stars, including record-breakers Rizki Juniansyah, China's Liu Huanhua in the 102kg category, Hou Zhihui, and PRK's Ri Song Gum in the women's 49kg category, Karlos Nasar from Bulgaria in the 89kg category, and Hampton Morris from the United States in the 61kg category, becoming his country's first senior world record holder in 55 years.

Other notable athletes who contributed to the spectacle without breaking world records included China's Li Wenwen and Ecuador's Neisi Dajomes, both Olympic champions, as well as Olivia Reeves from the United States, who claimed the top spot on the women's 71kg podium, surpassing competitors from China and PRK.

Li Wenwen (CHN)

China faces the challenge of deciding which athletes to leave behind, as they have qualified nine athletes while the limit is set at six. The women's team fared better than the men's, prompting China's national head coach, Yu Jie, to acknowledge the need to strengthen their fighting spirit after their performance fell below expectations. The experience gained from the World Cup will serve as valuable lessons to address any potential issues before the Olympic Games.

Egypt, Korea, the United States, and Venezuela deserve recognition for qualifying a significant number of athletes for Paris, considering the lowest athlete quota of 120 this century. The United States and Venezuela, however, will need to decline women's places after exceeding the limit of three.

Kate Vibert, despite ranking in the top 10 in two weight categories on the extended lists (two or more per nation), was unfortunate not to be selected. Nevertheless, she expressed admiration for the US team, stating that the respect for their team has significantly increased. Mike Gattone, the head coach and performance director of USA Weightlifting, echoed this sentiment, expressing pride in their athletes' achievements and highlighting the positive impact of the International Testing Agency (ITA) in ensuring a cleaner sport, thereby aiding the progress of "non-traditional" weightlifting nations.

Hampton Morris (USA)

The final rankings are now available on the IWF website. The complete list of 120 athletes for Paris, along with any Refugee Team members added by the IOC, will be announced in June. For detailed information regarding team nominations, reallocations, and rankings, interested parties are encouraged to visit the IWF website at https://iwf.sport/paris-2024-olympic-games/.

Karlos Nasar (BUL)

(Source from IWF from Brian Oliver, Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia)