Chinese veteran Lyu Xiaojun made history on Saturday by becoming the oldest weightlifter to win an Olympic Games gold medal when at 37 he bagged the men’s 81kg category along with three new Olympic records.
Lyu, who turned 37 on Tuesday, broke the record of Rudolf Plukfelder of the Soviet Union, who was 36 years old when he won gold in 1964 in Tokyo, reports Xinhua.
Zacarias Bonnat Michel of the Dominican Republic bagged a silver with 367kg. Italian Antonino Pizzolato nabbed a bronze with 365kg.
Having taken up weightlifting in 1998, Lyu said the past two decades were all about his love for the sport.
“I liked weightlifting at a young age, but now it’s my love. This is why I will carry on until I’m 37 years old, or even 40,” Lyu told a press conference.
Despite failing on his first snatch attempt at 165kg, Lyu eventually regrouped himself to lift a new Olympic record of 170kg in the snatch.
Lyu succeeded on 197kg in the first clean and jerk attempt to set an Olympic record 367kg in total, before improving it to 374kg with 204kg clean and jerk second attempt, also a new Olympic record.
Already having assured of a gold medal, Lyu attempted to refresh his own world record (207kg) with 210kg, but failed.
Lyu became the second oldest Olympic champion representing China in any sport after Wang Yifu, who won the men’s 10m air pistol shooting aged 43 in 2004 in Athens.
This is Lyu’s third Olympic medal after gold (2012) and silver (2016) in the 77kg category, making him the first Chinese weightlifter to rack up more than two Olympic medals.
The three-time Olympian didn’t rule out the possibility of competing at the Paris Olympic Games three years from now.
“If you see me compete at the World Championships next year, you would find me at the Paris Olympics,” he said.
Lyu’s victory means that four Chinese male weightlifters featuring in Tokyo 2020 have all achieved a perfect winning record in their categories.
“I will give them a score of 99 from 100 in case they will become complacent,” said Yu Jie, head coach of the Chinese men’s weightlifting team.