| London: North Korean Olympian Om Yun Chol joined an elite list of weightlifters to have lifted three times their weight during the men``s 56-kg, group B, clean and jerk weightlifting competition at the London Olympics, and he has credited his world-record feat to late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Om won the gold medal in the process, and according to him, it was all thanks due to their late ‘great leader’.
The 20-year-old Om, who stands just a shade under 5 feet, also set an Olympic record when he cleared 168 kilograms (about 370 pounds) in the clean and jerk in the men``s 56-kilogram (about 123 pounds) category.
“How can any man possibly lift 168kg? I believe the great Kim Jong Il looked over me,” CBS quoted Om, as saying.
Double world champion and pre-competition favorite Wu Jiangbiao of China had to settle for the silver medal while European Champion Valentin Hristov of Azerbaijan got the bronze.
Om cleared 160 and 165 kilograms in his first two attempts and got the crowd even more riled up when it was announced he would go for the Olympic mark.
Om then confidently bent to grab the bar and, after securing it at his shoulders on the clean, executed a powerful and steady jerk above his head.
“I am very happy and give thanks to our Great Leader for giving me the strength to lift this weight. I believe Kim Jong Il gave me the record and all my achievements. It is all because of him,” Om said.
North Korean athletes habitually heap praise on their former leader, Kim, and when weightlifter Pak Hyon Suk won the women``s 63-kilogram division in Beijing four years ago, she said she was ‘overjoyed’ by the fact that she had brought joy to Kim.
First Published: Monday, July 30, 2012, 13:18