Hsu Shu-Ching Wins Gold in 53kg Class As Li Yajun Fails to Total

The second weightlifting class of the 2016 Rio Olympics has its champion, and while the “A” session field was relatively small with just seven lifters, the competition featured numerous accomplished athletes, gutsy performances, and some clutch coaching calls. The lifter with the highest listed entry total failed to make a clean & jerk, which opened up the podium in a big way.

The final podium was as follows.

1. Hsu Shu-Ching (Taiwan)
2. Hidilyn Diaz (Philippines)
3. Yoon Jin-hee (South Korea)

Li Yajun (China) bombed out in the clean & jerk and failed to post a total. Yajun is the 2013 World Champion in the 53kg class, and after the most recent start list was published before the Games, her high entry total left her the clear favorite for gold.

Hsu Shu-Ching is the reigning World Champion (2015 in Houston) and initially won silver at the 2012 London Olympics. However, the gold medalist in 53kg from London — Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan — failed a drug retest and will likely have her medal revoked, making Shu-Ching a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Below is a video from Shu-Ching’s performance at last year’s Weightlifting World Championships.

Diaz left an impression on many during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, lifting in the 58kg class as a 17 year old. She bombed out of the 2012 London Olympics after missing all her clean & jerk attempts. Now down to a lighter weight class and with much more experience under her belt, Diaz has more than lived up to her hype as a Youth lifter and secures an early medal for the Philippines.

Jin-hee is the silver medalist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and her bronze in Rio marks a great return to form for the South Korean lifter.

Junior lifter Rebeka Koha of Latvia took an impressive third in this year’s European Championships, and some considered her a dark horse candidate for a medal. However, Koha’s 4/6 performance (good for a 197kg total) was only enough to land her in 4th place. We expect the 18 year old will be back for more than one future Olympic Games, and she’s certainly on our minds as a threat to medal in Tokyo (though it’s unclear if she’ll stay in the light 53kg weight class for much longer).