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:

1. Ruslan Nurudinov (Uzbekistan)
2. Simon Martirosyan (Armenia)
3. Alexandr Zaichikov (Kazakhstan)

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.

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