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ElBakh wins Qatar’s first Games gold, Lyu becomes oldest champ at 37

Weightlifter Fares ElBakh shattered two Games records in Tokyo as he became Qatar’s first Olympic champion in history on Saturday. The 2019 world silver medallist dominated the men’s 96kg, setting new marks for the clean and jerk (225kg) and total lift (402kg).

“I’m very honoured to have won a gold medal during these Olympics,” said El-Bakh, 23. “I hope that my performance was all right during these Games.”

Venezuela’s Keydomar Sanchez took silver with Anton Pliesnoi finishing third. El-Bakh attempted but failed a world-record 232 on his final lift.

ElBakh won Qatar’s sixth Olympic medal and second in weightlifting, after Saif Asaad’s 105kg bronze at Sydney 2000.

Meanwhile, age isn’t weighing Lyu Xiaojun down.

The 37-year-old Chinese weightlifter became the oldest man to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport on Saturday after a tense finish in the men’s 81-kg category.

Wearing his signature shiny gold shoes, Lyu lifted 170kg in the snatch and 204kg in the clean and jerk for a total 374kg. That was 7kg more than Zacarias Bonnat of the Dominican Republic in second and 9kg ahead of Italian rival Antonino Pizzolato, who won bronze.

Lyu’s win was only assured after Pizzolato tried and failed a world-record 210-kilogram clean and jerk. Lyu then tried the same weight but couldn’t complete the lift. He hoisted his coach into the air to celebrate the win and kissed the Chinese flag on his singlet.

“Five years is a long time for a man of this age,” Lyu said through an interpreter, looking back to his long wait since winning silver at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He said he longed to see his two children after spending most of his time away at training camps, but that the sport inspired him and gave him a role as a father figure to younger weightlifters.

“It’s a beautiful art and maybe that is why I can be an athlete for such a long time,” he said.

Lyu – who also won gold in 2012 – immediately shot down any talk of retirement.

“This is not my last competition,” he said, adding that he’s now targeting next year’s world championships on home soil in China – and beyond to the 2024 Olympics. “If you see me next year, you will see me in Paris.”

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