The 77s; China rewrites the books

Is there anything left to say about the 77-kilo class that China’s Lu Xiaojun and Lu Haojie have not said already with their performances? By opening with 170 kilos in the snatch these two figures redefined what it meant to be ahead of the pack. The next heaviest snatch was 158, by Korea’s Sa Jae-Hyouk. Unfortunately, the Korean lifter, who took gold in Beijing in 2008 with lifts of 163 and 203 for a 366 total, suffered an elbow dislocation on his second snatch attempt (162). The unfortunate consequence of this (apart from the immediate ones for this talented athlete) is that we must now endure years of people watching this footage online. It seems that the only time Olympic Weightlifting can find an audience in the US is when an athlete suffers some gruesome injury. If you have any doubts about this (which, why would you? unless you just discovered America this morning), go to YouTube and type in “weightlifter”. See what comes up as suggested searches, based on what others are searching. Go ahead, check. I’ll still be here when you switch tabs.

Sickening, right? These people are goddamn savages…

(training videos > injury videos)

Anyways, Sa Jae-Hyouk’s injury was terrible, and I was really looking forward to him giving the Chinese a battle in the clean and jerk portion of the competition. With some luck and work he’ll be back for future competitions.

With the Korean out of the competition and Armenia’s Tigran Martirosyan nowhere to be seen (what happened to him?) the field was left to the two Chinese lifters to battle it out. In this regard, China once again proved why they are the current superstar of Olympic weightlifting. There are no doubt a variety of factors that contribute to the country’s success in this sport—a state-sponsored athletics program, an enormous pool of talent, excellent coaching, recovery aids, meat that’s tainted with clenbuterol—but not to be overlooked is the fact that they have some of the toughest athletes this side of North Korea.

Both Lu Xiaojun and his teenage teammate Lu Haojie (whose birthday is tomorrow, August 3—happy birthday, Haojie, or should I say 生日快乐) opened with an extraordinary 170 in the snatch. One-seven-zero. If the media could stop writing about Michael Phelps winning 5000 gold medals in a sport where they give out medals every time someone falls in a pool they might report on the fact that a 77-kilo man lifting 170 kilos overhead in a single motion is among the most impressive things in sport. And these two were just getting started. For their second attempts both athletes jumped to the World Record—175 kilos. Haojie, who did this weight at the Chinese Nationals, was the first to attempt it but missed. Xiaojun, who attempted this weight at the 2010 Worlds in Antalya, was up next. I will let Xiaojun show you what happened:

“ain’t nothing but a peanut.” (photo: MIKE GROLL / AP)

Three reds for a 77-kilo lifter. And it’s very likely he would have done more, too, if the judges had not bumbled him out of a third attempt.

This lift gave him a five-kilo lead over his teammate—who passed on his third attempt due to injury—and an 18-kilo lead over the next best snatch. I’m certain that NBC’s inane commentary on this session will say something like “that’s the equivalent of a garbage bag full of feral kittens” or something. However you frame it, that’s an enormous lead.

In the end, the gold was a lock for Xiaojun. He finished the day with a solid 204 clean and jerk, good for a World Record total of 379. As difficult as it may be to overshadow that performance, his teammate Haojie might have done it. After injuring his elbow on his second snatch attempt and passing on his third attempt, Haojie—displaying a level of bravery not seen since Bruce Willis saved the world from an asteroid by exploding a nuclear bomb on it—came out for an opening clean and jerk of 190 to secure the silver medal.

lifting on one elbow (and one leg, apparently) (photo credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Europe)

Clearly, Haojie is made from different stuff than most men, or most lifters, or most dragons.

With first and second locked up, the only real fight was for bronze, which ultimately went to Cuba’s Iván Cambar (155 and 194, for a 349 total).

Enough for now. Thursday we can all let our weightlifting-watching synapses rest a bit and try to get our lives back in some kind of order, as there is no lifting taking place. But I would be remiss not to mention the outstanding, medal-winning performance of Canada’s Christine Girard, who secured a bronze for her country in the 63-kilo class with a 236 total (103 and 133). Earlier in the summer Christine had a run-in with Mike Graber at a Tim Horton’s. It’s good to know she’s recovered without any lasting effects.

I leave you in the grace and favor of Klokov…

when he’s in the water, klokov’s pecs are considered to be “beachfront property”, and as such are subject to commercial and residential development and zoning laws. (photo credit: mike graber)

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4 Responses to The 77s; China rewrites the books

  1. Michael George says:

    I love your blog Dave, especially agree with the swimming comments. It’s a slap in the face to athletes everywhere calling Phelps the greatest Olympian ever when essentially only a swimmer can garner that title since they swim it seems all day everyday for a month and medals go to every race. Don’t worry NBC shows every single heat and final! :-( I’d rather watch Lu Xiaojun eat eggs in the morning.

  2. Espidi says:

    “… in a sport where they give out medals every time someone falls in a pool …”
    There is a simple solution. The IWF should create more events. For instance, 2 snatches, 3 snatches,…, 2 clean and jerks, 3 clean and jerks,…, power jerk,…, and all the combinations.
    And, of course, the Klokov complex: http://youtu.be/ZwYbiZwbkuY

  3. Steve says:

    Awesome writing, busted me up.

  4. Pingback: The 77s; China rewrites the books | Decadence and Depravity: Tales of Weightlifting, Food, and Everything Else

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