Presidential salute as Irawan lifts gold for Indonesia

AFP , Tuesday 21 Aug 2018

Hidilyn Diaz of Philippines competes in the women's 53kg weightlifting event during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta on August 21, 2018 AFP

 Eko Yuli Irawan declared he was a "proud Indonesian" after winning the hosts' first weightlifting gold of the Asian Games in front of President Joko Widodo on Tuesday.

Veteran Irawan, 29, has won multiple major medals in a senior weightlifting career stretching back to his bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but had never before set foot on the top step of the podium.

"I'm a proud Indonesian and pleased for the country to win gold," Irawan told AFP after receiving his medal from president Widodo.

"I feel like everything I have fought for I have now finally achieved."

Irawan's almost flawless performance of strength and control was capped by a 170kg lift in the clean and jerk which raised the roof at the Jakarta International Expo.

To screams from his adoring home fans, Irawan saluted the country's president seated in front of him, broke into a huge smile and flashed a thumbs-up to the packed 2,000-capacity venue after setting a winning total of 311kg.

Vietnam's Trinh van Vinh needed a mammoth personal best of 179kg with the final lift of the competition to snatch gold, but he crumpled in the attempt.

Finally Irawan could savour the golden moment that had always eluded him in the past, after Olympic bronzes at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, silver at Rio two years ago and Asian Games bronzes in 2010 and 2014.

President Widodo presented him with his medal before he saluted again throughout his country's anthem and flag-raising.

Trinh consoled himself with silver, and the bronze went to Uzbekistan's Adkhamjon Ergashev.

The absence of China and Kazakhstan, who are on year-long International Weightlifting Federation bans for multiple historic doping offences, meant North Korea dominated the first day of weightlifting on Monday.

They took both golds in the lightest men's and women's weight classes with pint-sized weightlifters Ri Song Gum in the women's 48kg class and Om Yun Chol in the men's 56kg.

But Irawan ensured there would be no North Korea hat-trick as the weightlifting competition resumed Tuesday.

He began in dominant fashion with 141kg in the snatch, good enough for a 5kg cushion over Ergashev and 8kg over Trinh.

Meanwhile North Korea's Sin Chol Bom, who had been expected to challenge Irawan, was struggling back on 130kg after the first stanza and eventually finished fourth.

Irawan was ecstatic to be halfway to his stated career aims of winning both Asian Games and Olympic gold.

"I'm very thankful to my coach and team, also the people where I am from, for supporting me," he said. "I want to win gold in Tokyo 2020."

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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