By Brian Oliver at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas
Aleksei Lovchev took the title of “the strongest man in the world” with a breathtaking world-record victory in the men’s +105kg. A couple of hours later the there was more glory for Russia when Tatiana Kashirina won the women’s +75kg world title for the third year in a row.
Lovchev went up 16kg from his second lift to his last in the clean & jerk when he was assured of a clean sweep of golds.
He had never lifted more than 257kg in training. He had to lift 264kg to beat Iranian Hossein Rezazadeh’s clean & jerk and total world records, which had stood for 11 and 15 years respectively. He made it, to huge cheers from a large crowd who rose to their feet.
“I was thinking ‘This is impossible,’ as I had never tried that weight before,” said Lovchev, 26. “I’m overwhelmed.
“This shows that Russia is the strongest nation. I could never have done it without the support of my parents. My father is my coach and he introduced me to weightlifting. My mother passed away in 2012 and I dedicate this victory and the records to her.
“When I was little I used to watch Rezazadeh on television, lifting enormous weights. He was an example to me and I never imagined I would one day take his records.”
In the snatch the Canadian announcer, Richard Mason, called “Good lift” 27 times from 35 attempts. Apart from the Egyptian Mohamed Ehsan, who withdrew after injuring his left leg on his second attempt, every lifter had at least two successes.
Lovchev won on 211kg from Lasha Talakhadze (Georgia) on 207kg and Gor Minasyan (Armenia) on 203kg.
“If I was going to break a world record tonight I thought it might be in the snatch,” said Lovchev. That record (214kg) belongs to another Iranian, Behdad Salimikordasiabi, the Olympic champion who was absent from Houston with a knee injury.
“I wish him well, a good recovery, and I look forward to competing against him again,” said Lovchev. “If he had been here the snatch results might have been a bit different.”
Another absentee was the 2013 and 2014 champion, Lovchev’s Russian teammate Ruslan Albegov. “He will compete at the President’s Cup in Grozny next month,” said Lovchev. “It was decided that I would come here to the World Championships and he would be the team leader in the President’s Cup. He’s still the strongest man on earth!”
Runner-up Talakhadze offered his congratulations to Lovchev and said he could barely believe the 264kg lift. “I have never bettered 250kg in training,” he said. “This is a historical moment.”
Mart Seim, of Estonia, finished second in the clean & jerk on 248kg and third overall. “I am happy but to win a medal in the Olympics I must improve by 15-20kg,” he said. If that sounds daunting, Lovchev just achieved it in a single lift.
In the final event of the championships, the women’s +75kg, Kashirina started when everybody else had just about finished in the snatch. There was one lift remaining, for China’s Meng Suping, when Kashirina came in at 143kg. She finished on 148, clear of Meng and Thailand’s Chitchanok Pulsabsakul.
Kashirina weighed in at 108kg, up 2kg on her weight in Almaty last year, where she finished 28kg clear of Meng.
This time it was closer as Kashirina made only one of her clean & jerk attempts, at 185kg – eight short of her own record – but it was enough for a clean sweep of golds. Her 333kg total left her 8kg clear of Meng again. PR Korea’s Kim Kuk Hyang, fifth in the snatch, was a long way back in third place, on 296kg.
“I don’t know what happened, I just didn’t feel comfortable tonight and I’m a bit ashamed that I didn’t at least go for the record,” she said.
“But as long as I’m young and strong and healthy I will keep doing my best. Let’s see what happens in Rio.”