I never would have imagined I’d enter a Starbucks while visiting France, and yet that’s exactly what I was forced to do last night. It’s unfortunately the only place in this outpost of hell that serves something resembling coffee at a late hour, and since I was going on my third lifting session of the day–the men’s 85 C session–a little caffeine was absolutely necessary. And really in a place like this the only way to survive is to accept that you will have to sell a little part of your soul, and do things you otherwise wouldn’t normally do; even just stepping foot in this godforsaken place is an act of cultural felo de se.
But as the saying goes, “When in Rome…”, and clearly the same applies when you’re in hell. Shit, we were almost forced to go to a McDonald’s for food last night, and only the fact that it was closed prevented us from stepping inside.
Geographical misery aside, the evening was host to some outstanding lifting, from both the men and the women, although with the abundance of facial hair hair in the latter class the distinction wasn’t always clear cut.
The men’s 77 A session was first. Expectations were high, given the entrants and their posted starting weights. Lu Xiaojun, Su Dajin, Sa Jaehyouk, Tigran Martirosyan–all very strong, and all very capable in both disciplines. It was obvious from the outset that barring a bombout or some breakout performances by one of the second-tier lifters the battle for first place was going to be between these four men.
And that’s exactly how it played out, more or less. Sa Jaehyouk fared the worst at the outset, making only one snatch at 157 on his second attempt. This left him at a serious disadvantage, as both Tigran and Su Dajin managed 166, while current world record holder Xiaojun put 170 overhead with relative ease on his third attempt.
But the real action came during the clean and jerk, when each of the three medalists–Lu Xiaojun, Su Dajin, and Sa Jaehyouk–took a crack at the current world record. Yes, three contestants all shooting for a clean and jerk of 211 kilos. Drug testing may have pulled weights down in some classes, but not this one (unless, of course, you consider the all-time record, which is some ungodly number like 215, or more).
Unfortunately none of them could quite muster it, although Xiaojun and Jaehyouk came damn close, each missing it only in the jerk portion. Jaehyouk looks especially good, and there’s a sense that he could clean about a metric ton if it were put on the bar.
The 75 women’s A session followed, and it, too, didn’t disappoint. Like last year there was an epic battle–kilo for kilo–between Russia’s Nadezda Evstyukhina and Kazakhstan’s Svetlana Podobedova. Although this year Evstyukhina came out on top, with both a gold medal and a new world record of 163 in the clean and jerk (which broke her own record).
And now we wait for the men’s 85s. The B session is already underway, and Kendrick Farris has gone 2 for 3, making 157 on his second attempt. Any minute now the world record holder in the snatch, Andrei Rybakov, will be walking out for his first attempt. He’s listed at 165, but that just changed to 170. Things could begin to get interesting…