HANGZHOU, China — A third women’s weightlifting world record was broken as North Korea continued to dominate at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on their return to international competition after four years away.
Kim Il Gyong, who appears to have last competed internationally as a 14-year-old junior in 2018, set a new snatch record of 111kg on her way to gold in the women’s 59kg class.
The 20-year-old then hoisted 135kg in the clean and jerk to finish on a 246kg total and condemn China’s Luo Shifang to silver with former snatch world record-holder Kuo Hsing-chun of Taiwan in third.
“Like athletes from other NOCs we train in great venues. We are devoted and very committed to our preparation,” said Kim when asked how lifters from her country were able to shatter so many world records.
Later Rim Un Sim comfortably won a second Asian Games gold medal, adding the women’s 64kg title to the 69kg gold she won in Jakarta five years ago, though she failed with a snatch world record attempt at 118kg.
Ri Song Gum broke two world records in the women’s 49kg, the first weightlifting event of the Hangzhou Games.
Kang Hyong Yong, a 24-year-old with no international pedigree, followed up in staggering fashion with a hat-trick of world records in the snatch, clean and jerk, and combined on her way to gold in the women’s 55kg class.
Kim, who is still technically a junior, also broke the junior world records on Monday for all three categories. She finished 1kg short of Kuo’s senior world record total of 247kg.
Two hurdlers were crowned champions after a photo finish at the Asian Games while North Korea doubled down in record-breaking style in the weightlifting.
Japan’s Shunya Takayama and Kuwaiti runner Yaqoub Alyouha were both awarded gold in the men’s 110 metres hurdles, officials unable to separate them after they crossed in 13.41 seconds at the Hangzhou Olympic stadium.
Takayama, who took bronze in the event at the previous Asian Games in Jakarta, said he felt lucky to share the title after hitting hurdles in the race.
“To get two gold medals, with another athlete, makes me twice as happy,” he said.
Alyouha admitted to a nervous wait before the result was confirmed.
“This is very rare in our line of work,” he said. “Honestly? My blood ran cold.”
North Korea’s record-shattering performances continued in the weightlifting where Kim Il Gyong set a world mark in the snatch (111kg) on the way to winning the women’s 59-kg division.
The 20-year-old became the reclusive East Asian nation’s third female weightlifter to get into the world-record books in Hangzhou where the team is competing in their first international competition since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ri Song Gum and Kang Hyong Yong set records in winning gold in the 49-kg and 55-kg divisions respectively.
The North Koreans ended up skipping Cuba and will not compete at the Paris Olympics.
“I would assume they have done the right thing if they are able to compete (in Hangzhou) but there are a lot of lingering questions,” Australian Weightlifting Federation president Sam Coffa told Reuters.
Five years after winning the 69kg gold in Jakarta, a lighter Rim Un Sim coasted to gold for North Korea in the women’s 64kg with a combined lift of 251kg.
While it was no world record, it was 17kg better than China’s runner-up, Pei Xinyi.