Rim Jong-sim yesterday bagged North Korea’s seventh weightlifting gold of the Asian Games in Indonesia to complete a remarkable family double, just a day after a victory by her little sister.
Like her 22-year-old sibling, Rim Un-sim, in Saturday’s 69kg category, the reigning Olympic champion enjoyed a comfortable margin of victory in the 75kg class — this time by a massive 26kg.
“I was a bit nervous after my sister won, just hoping I could do the same,” said a delighted Rim Jong-sim, 25, who was watched by her sister as she further extended North Korea’s record weightlifting haul at the Games.
Her sister could not hold back her emotions after Rim Jong-sim was presented with her gold medal by North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il-guk and the nation’s anthem played for the seventh time in seven days of competition.
“I was so happy for Onni [big sister]. I knew she could win, but I couldn’t hold back when I thought of her and my country,” Rim Un-sim told reporters after wiping away her tears.
It was a sentiment echoed by Rim Jong-sim.
“This gold is not just for me, but for my country,” she said.
North Korea’s previous best performance at the Games had been four weightlifting golds at Incheon, South Korea, four years ago.
With regional heavyweights China, who topped the Incheon weightlifting medals with seven golds, and Kazakhstan currently under a doping suspension, the North Koreans have dominated the event.
Rim Jong-sim was so dominant that her opening weights would have been enough to win and she used the rest of her lifts like a training exercise, with a flawless series of six lifts culminating in a snatch of 116kg and a clean and jerk of 147kg.
After her sixth and final successful lift, she broke into a huge smile and waved to the packed crowd, which contained a large North Korean delegation, at the 2,000-capacity Jakarta International Expo.
A few minutes earlier, South Korea’s Mun Min-hee had screamed with delight after personal bests of 106kg in the snatch and 130kg in the clean and jerk propelled her into the silver medal position on 236kg.
However, Uzbekistan’s Omadoy Otakuziyeva, who had one lift remaining, increased her clean and jerk lifetime best by 6kg to leapfrog Mun and snatch the silver.
There was a heartbreaking incident at the start of the competition as Aysoltan Toychyyeva suffered weightlifting equivalent of golf’s “yips” before crashing out.
The Turkmenistani, who won a silver medal at last year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, came to the stage twice for her opening snatch at 88kg looking ashen. She froze like a rabbit in the headlights and walked away sobbing both times without even attempting a lift, as nerves got the better of her.
At the third time of asking, she did at least try to raise the bar, but pulled out and rushed from the stage crying and inconsolable with her Asian Games over.
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