Even with World Champion Artem Okulov and perennial threat Apti Aukhadov out of the 2016 Olympics, the men’s 85kg category was still a battle for dominance between two lifters capable of world record lifts. In the end, the more consistent man won: Iran’s Kianoush Rostami, who set new clean & jerk and total world records earlier this year, is the new Olympic Champion. And he broke his own total world record by 1kg to do so.
China’s Tian Tao — seen by many as an ultra-talented but somewhat inconsistent lifter — took silver after making only his last attempts in both the snatch and clean & jerk.
The men’s 85kg podium is as follows; the new 85kg total record stands at 396kg:
1. Kianoush Rostami (Iran)
2. Tian Tao (China)
3. Gabriel Sincraian (Romania)
Rostami’s win marks Iran’s first medal in Rio in any sport. He won bronze in the same weight class in London.
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) August 13, 2016
Denis Ulanov of Kazakhstan, who many expected to make a podium run, missed out on bronze on bodyweight.
The session included plenty of drama. Tao missed his first snatch at 173 and then missed his next attempt at 178. In a do-or-die situation, he stuck his final lift at 178kg and trailed Rostami by a single kilogram heading into the clean & jerks. (Rostami took an attempt at 182kg and failed.)
However, it appeared Tao hurt his elbow on the snatch, which left viewers in doubt as to whether he would make an appearance in the next phase of competition.
Tao opened at 210 in the clean & jerk and missed, then missed his second attempt at the same weight. Meanwhile, Rostami missed his opener at 215kg, then made the weight on his second attempt. Tao, Rostami, and Romanian lifter Gabriel Sincraian — who made all six attempts on the day — would all come out to lift an Olympic-record 217 kilograms.
For Tao, the make gave him the silver and saved him from his second straight bombout in international competition.
Featured image: @tparsi on Twitter