Record-breaking Georgian Olympic weightlifter eyes ‘risky’ goal

Sports Tokyo 2020

Georgia's Lasha Talakhadze competes in the men's +109kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Olympics. AFP
Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze competes in the men’s +109kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Olympics. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

Georgian super-heavyweight weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze is eyeing the sport’s holy grail of a combined lift of 500 kilograms after smashing three world records on his way to Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Talakhadze hoisted a total of 488kg in the +109kg category on Wednesday, comprising 223kg in the snatch and 265kg in the clean and jerk.

All three weights were world records, breaking benchmarks set by Talakhadze himself in an event the 27-year-old has dominated in recent years.

The Georgian beat silver medallist Ali Davoudi of Iran (441kg) by 47kg, with Syria’s Man Asaad claiming bronze with 424kg.

Talakhadze, who won the +105kg class in Rio before weightlifting’s classifications were revised and has 11 world championship titles, said he was keen to continue to the Paris Games in 2024.

He is eyeing a 500kg lift, a feat once considered impossible but now just 12kg away.

“At this stage it would be risky, but I will try my utmost and I will do everything in order to set the nearest margin at least to that limit,” he said.

“First of all, I will do what is necessary to win -- the rest we will see what happens during the competitions and what my chief coach will decide.”

Talakhadze, who was banned for two years in 2013 after testing positive for anabolic steroids, was confident weightlifting’s well-publicised doping issues would not result in the sport being dropped from the Olympics.

“Weightlifting has always been one of the (Olympic) sports. Without weightlifting there is not an Olympic Games,” he said.

“Those who deserve punishment should be punished but as a sport it should stay in the programme.”

The International Olympic Committee has threatened to axe weightlifting from the Paris Games if the sport cannot clean up its act.

Weightlifting has recorded 110 doping offences at the Olympic Games -- more than a quarter of the total ever recorded across all sports -- with 49 athletes stripped of their medals, according to an AFP count.

ns/jw

© Agence France-Presse

Tokyo 2020 AFP