Om wins weightlifting gold for North Korea

Om Yun Chol of North Korea won the gold medal in the men’s

56-kilogram category Sunday in the first upset of the weightlifting

competition at the London Olympics.

Om, who was competing in the ”B” group of lower-ranked

lifters, set an Olympic record in the clean and jerk to finish with

a total of 293 kilograms. He joined an exclusive group who have

lifted three times their weight in the clean and jerk.

Double world champion and favorite Wu Jiangbiao of China had to

settle for the silver medal, while European Champion Valentin

Hristov of Azerbaijan got the bronze.

The 20-year-old Om, who stands just 5 feet tall, immediately

gave all the credit to Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader who

died last year.

”How can any man possibly lift 168kg? I believe the great Kim

Jong Il looked over me,” Om was quoted as saying by the Olympic

News Service.

Om lifted weights of 160 and 165 kilograms on his first two

attempts and got the crowd roaring when it was announced he would

go for 168 kilograms, or 370 pounds – the Olympic record.

”I wanted to lift a big weight and make the other athletes

nervous,” Om said.

It worked.

As the ”A” group entered the platform at the ExCeL center

later Sunday, Wu lifted 133 kilograms in the snatch to gain an

8-kilogram lead over Om. But his 156-kilogram clean and jerk wasn’t

enough to beat the North Korean’s total.