In a weight class with the noticeable absence of Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin, his main rival showed he’s a force to be reckoned with regardless of the names on the start list. Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Nurudinov — the 2013 World Champion and favorite heading into Rio — soundly secured the gold medal in the men’s 105kg class.
In the process, he won Uzbekistan’s first-ever Olympic weightlifting medal — potentially a surprise realization for fans who have become accustomed to seeing Uzbek lifters at the top of World standings over the past several years.
One of our contributors — a personal friend of Nurudinov — correctly predicted the entire podium for the weight class, though the bronze and silver medalists were in switched positions.
The men’s 105kg podium is as follows:
Zhe Yang (China) finished in 4th place, one kilogram behind Zaichikov.
Nurudinov and fellow Uzbek lifter Ivan Efremov were tied at 194kg after the snatch portion, but Efremov’s heaviest clean & jerk topped out at 220kg for the day. Nurudinov finished 5 for 6 and made all three clean & jerks to finish with a 431kg total. His international best in the lift is 239, which he completed at the 2014 World Weightlifting Championships and which gave him the world record in the weight class — albeit for just a few minutes before it was reset to 242kg by Ilyin.
Martirosyan came into Rio fresh off an impressive performance at Junior Worlds, where he lifted as a very light superheavyweight. He had a chance to move ahead of Nurudinov but failed his last clean & jerk at 234kg. Having already secured gold, Nurudinov came back out and nailed his final clean & jerk for an Olympic record in the lift, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Zaichikov only made his opening clean & jerk, but it was good enough for third overall.
Nurudinov can now add Olympic Champion to his growing list of accomplishments, including his win from Worlds in 2013.