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Phuket, Day 12: Lasha watches from crowd as Lalayan wins and young Iraqi marks himself out as a future star

The final day of the IWF World Cup was not like the 11 that came before it. There were no world records, nobody knocked a team-mate out of the Olympic rankings, and the two biggest names in the men’s super-heavyweights were in the crowd rather than on the platform.

Multiple world record holder Lasha Talakhadze from Georgia withdrew after weighing for the second successive qualifier.  The rankings leader has had knee problems and is more concerned with his long-term preparations for Paris.

Varazdat Lalayan (ARM)

Second-ranked Gor Minasyan from Bahrain also withdrew, along with two others in the top 10, Man Asaad from Syria and Abdelrahman Elsayed from Egypt. When Eduard Ziaziulin, the Individual Neutral Athlete from Belarus, bombed out in snatch only half of those heading for Paris were left to contest the clean and jerk.

Talakhadze watched with his coach in the audience as Varazdat Lalayan from Armenia and Ali Davoudi, third and fourth in the rankings, improved their best totals in finishing first and second. Both men declined their final attempt.

Lalayan made 210-253-463 and Davoudi 202-252-454. Another Iranian, Ayat Sharifi, was third from the B Group on 201-246-447 where he went for a final attempt to overtake Davoudi, but failed.

Talakhadze will be trying for his third Olympic gold in Paris. One of the men he saw today is already thinking about winning in Los Angeles in 2028.

The young Iraqi Ali Yusur clearly has a promising future in the super-heavyweights. He was a teenager when he opened his qualifying campaign with a total of 389kg and was just past his 20th birthday when he set a junior world record in snatch at the World Championships last September.

Ali Yusur (IRQ)

He moved into the Olympic top 10 at the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan in February and finished eighth in the rankings after another improvement today on 195-232-427. Yusur did it with only two good lifts, declining his last two clean and jerks after making a career-best total.

“I started when I was 10, and weightlifting is the only sport for me,” he said. “My father was a weightlifter and now he is my coach. He focuses only on me and that has really helped me.

“I am very motivated to get an Olympic medal because Iraq has not won one since the 1960s. That long wait is what pushes me every day in training.”

That last medal, a bronze for the lightweight lifter Abdul Wahid Aziz in 1960, is the only one Iraq has ever won in any sport at the Olympics.

“I would like to win a medal in Paris, of course,” said Yusur. “But I will have four years after that to prepare for the next Olympics. In 2028 it has to be gold.”

Ali Davoudi (IRI)

Yusur trains mostly in Baghdad and has been to training camps in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. He weighed in today about 20kg lighter than Lalayan and nearly 50kg less than Davoudi’s 181kg.

Enzo Kuworge, the 22-year-old from the Netherlands, made a big effort after a qualifying schedule blighted by a serious knee injury. Kuworge was off the platform for more than two years before returning at the European Championships in February. Today he made 179-225-404, declining his final attempt after failing at 235kg.

Ayat Sharifi (IRI)

Eishiro ‘Tank’ Murakami was by far the noisiest lifter of the World Cup, yelling at the crowd and marching to the front of the platform to large cheers as he made 190kg in snatch. He had to be helped off stage when he injured his left leg on his first attempt in clean and jerk and did not make a total, but he still qualified.

The top 10 in order were Talakhadze, Minasyan, Lalyan, Davoudi, Asaad, Ziaziulin, Abdelrahman, Yusur, Murakami and Walid Bidani from Algeria, who made 197-229-426 to improve his best total by 6kg. David Liti from New Zealand takes the continental slot.

By Brian Oliver

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia




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