Young weightlifters from both North and South Korea demonstrated the power of sport to unite people in friendly and peaceful competition at the recent 2019 Youth and Junior Asian Weightlifting Championships held in Pyongyang. The competition also served as a Gold Level Qualification Event for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
A delegation of 65 from the Republic of Korea crossed the border into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as they headed north to participate in the Championships. A total of 18 junior athletes were accompanied by 20 youth athletes and a 27-strong support team that included coaches and officials. They followed in the footsteps of senior athletes, as weightlifting already brought together Korean athletes in 2013, for the Asian Cup also held in Pyongyang.
As a sport with universal appeal, weightlifting has disproportionately contributed to the DPRK’s medal success at the Olympic Games. At the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, weightlifting accounted for four of the team’s six gold medals. The 2019 Youth and Junior Asian Weightlifting Championships demonstrated that the DPRK is on track to continue this success, winning 53 of 174 medals available, finishing 1st on the juniors medal table and winning 43 of 165 youth medals, landing the women’s team on the 1st place and the men’s team on the 3rd.
“We think that sports have a unique power to put the whole together. We think that we need to focus on the original goal of sports spirit,” said Korea Weightlifting Federation General Secretary SON Sung Kook. “We are planning to organize the East Asian Weightlifting Championships in March, in Seoul and we will try to invite the DPR Korea Team. DPR Korea is a very strong team not only within East Asian Weightlifting Federation countries but also in the whole world, so we would like to invite them strongly,” he added.
“With 193 member nations, we at the International Weightlifting Federation know very well that our sport is one practised all around the world and we are proud to bring so many people together around tests of strength and technique,” said IWF President Tamas Ajan. “But nowhere are we more proud to see weightlifting bringing people together than on the Korean peninsula again, after 2013 Asian Cup brought together Korean athletes competing on the same stage in Pyongyang already.
We shall continue to do all that we can to ensure an atmosphere of peaceful celebration through sport continues to open doors and minds wherever we can.”