With Akkaev and Klokov allegedly out of the Olympics, there was a temptation to simply crawl into bed for the next week or so, brooding over deep, existential problems while listening to Dashboard Confessional and eating tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and frozen waffles dipped in peanut butter. The world seemed a little dimmer in light of Klokov’s absence. But the 75+ women’s session proved that there can be life—and excellent weightlifting—after Klokov.
The final women’s session was arguably the best of the Games so far. It was also the session with USA’s two female lifters—Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold. Mangold finished tenth with lifts of 105 and 135, well below her capabilities but impressive for someone coping with a host of injuries, including a torn tendon in her right hand. Robles managed 120 (a PR for her, I believe) and 145, which gave her a 265 total for seventh place.
Entry to the podium required a bit more than that. Third place was hotly contested by Korea’s Jang Mi-Ran and Armenia’s Hripsime Khurshudyan. This was Jang Mi-Ran’s third Olympics. In Athens in 2004 she took silver with a 302.5 total and in Beijing in 2008 she won gold with 326. Her 289 total in London was far short of those marks, leaving the bronze to Khurshudyan’s 294 total. (And this is only eight months after Khurshudyan dislocated her elbow with a 130 snatch attempt at the 2011 Worlds.)
But the real battle was between China’s Zhou Lulu and Russia’s Tatiana Kashirina. These two previously went head-to-head at the 2011 Worlds in Paris, where Zhou’s 328 took gold to Kashirina’s 322. Both women bested their efforts in that competition, setting a host of new World and Olympics Records in the process. When the weights had settled and the dust cleared China’s Zhou was once again the gold medallist, finishing the day with a 333 total, one kilo ahead of the Russian. These are impressive totals in their own right for any athlete, but the details give an even more impressive story. Consider that Kashirina snatched a World Record 151, which is absolutely monstrous, or that Zhou clean and jerked an Olympic Record 187 and then made a serious attempt at 190. Also bear in mind that Kashirina weighed in at a comparatively svelt 102, some 30 kilos lighter than Zhou. In this mold she seems built like that other Russian superheavy, Evgeny Chigishev, who was consistently among the lightest in his class (though at the top, in terms of performance).
Overall it was an outstanding session, and even NBC’s shitty job streaming it could not dim my enjoyment of it (too much). Supposedly it was even broadcast on TV, which means that the network was forced to report on something other than Michael Phelps. Perhaps they had him narrate the lifting with Bob Costas, or maybe they just showed footage of Phelps eating a Subway sandwich in between every lift. Whatever the case, it’s good to see that weightlifting is not alone when it comes to NBC’s inability to provide decent coverage of Olympic sports.
So as it turns out, there is life after Klokov and Akkaev—
But wait! STOP THE PRESSES!
There are now rumors floating around that Akkaev will lift after all. Apparently he had back surgery on Thursday and was told by doctors to take six weeks off. Here is what Akkaev had to say about that:
I don’t want to be the doctor in the way of Akkaev getting onto the platform. In a few short hours we’ll know whether this is indeed the case. Could this mean Klokov’s return as well?? Be still my heart…