Chinese weightlifter Lyu rewrites history with Olympic men's 81kg gold

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Lyu Xiaojun of China gestures during the awarding ceremony of the weightlifting men's 81kg event at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on July 31, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese veteran weightlifter Lyu Xiaojun made history by winning a gold medal in the men's 81kg category along with three new Olympic records at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Saturday.

Zacarias Bonnat Michel of the Dominican Republic bagged a silver with 367kg. "It's historical for my country because it's the first Olympic weightlifting medal. I feel overwhelmed," said the runner-up Michel.

Italian Antonino Pizzolato nabbed a bronze with 365kg.

Lyu, who turned 37 on Tuesday, broke the record for the oldest Olympic Games champion in the sport set by Rudolf Plukfelder of the Soviet Union, who was 36 years old when he won gold at Tokyo 1964.

Taking up weightlifting in 1998, Lyu said the past two decades are all about his love for the sport.

"I like 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.

Gold medalist China's Lyu Xiaojun (C), silver medalist Zacarias Bonnat Michel (L) of Dominican Republic and bronze medalist Antonino Pizzolato of Italy pose for photos during the awarding ceremony of the weightlifting men's 81kg event at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on July 31, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Already having assured his 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 at Athens 2004 aged 43.

This is Lyu's third Olympic medal after gold (2012) and silver (2016) in the 77kg category, making the 37-year-old Lyu 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 Games three years from now.

"If you saw 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.

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