In what will go down as one of the most intense finishes to a weightlifting session in recent memory, reigning World Champion Nijat Rahimov needed to clean & jerk a full four kilograms above the world record in his weight class to snatch victory from defending Olympic Champion Lu Xiaojun — so he did.
Xiaojun led out of the snatch portion after besting his own world record by 1kg, lifting a full 100 kilos over bodyweight to set a once near-unthinkable record in the 77kg weight class. Armenia’s Andranik Karapetyan wasn’t far behind after lifting an astounding 174kg on his second snatch attempt (missing 176 on his third). Unfortunately, Karapetyan suffered what looked to be an elbow dislocation on his second clean & jerk attempt and withdrew from the competition.
That left the battle between Rahimov and Xiaojun. The Chinese lifter opened his clean & jerks at 197kg and missed, then came back to make it on a second attempt. Xiaojun and Rahimov both hit 202kg, but the Kazakh lifter still had two attempts remaining to take a 12 kilo jump and attempt to unseat the London Olympic champ
He only needed one.
Rahimov obliterated the longstanding 77kg clean & jerk record — set nearly 16 years ago by Russia’s Oleg Perepetchenov — by a full four kilograms on his second attempt (he passed on his third, victory and a new record already secured). Rahimov weighed in lighter than Xiaojun, so a tied total would see him winning on bodyweight. And after Rahimov finished a full 12 kilograms behind Xiaojun in the snatch portion, the gap seemed insurmountable.
Rahimov’s previous international best was 207kg, embedded below.
Now, the men’s 77kg weight class has new World Records in both lifts. The final podium is as follows.
1. Nijat Rahimov (Kazakhstan)
2. Lu Xiaojun (China)
3. Mohamed Ihab Youssef Ahmed Mahmoud (Egypt)
This event was likely the last Olympics for the 32 year old Xiaojun and could very well be his final international competition.
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