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Iranian Wins on Record Day

September 27, 2000|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — The silver medalist didn't know his name even after losing to him. Asked beforehand what his own expectations were, he was pessimistic about winning a medal.

So imagine Hossein Rezazadeh's surprise when he outlifted the world's strongest men to win the gold medal in Olympic super heavyweight weightlifting--even if he didn't win instant recognition.

"I still don't know his name and I can't even quite tell you what he looks like," two-time silver medalist Ronny Weller of Germany said. "But he is a very surprising competitor."

Rezazadeh watched as one world record, then another fell Tuesday. Then he calmly stepped to bar, looked to the heavens for help and set two records of his own to earn Iran's second weightlifting gold medal by a man named Hossein in as many days.

Hossein Tavakoli won Monday at 231 1/4 pounds.

Rezazadeh lifted 1,040 pounds to overtake Weller of Germany and bronze medalist Ashot Danielyan of Armenia.

"They're the best in the world, but my preparation was very good," the 22-year-old Rezazadeh said. "The level was very high. I did not expect to win a medal."

At different points of a competition that had the sellout crowd cheering as if it were a down-to-the-wire basketball game, each of the top three held a world record.

But Rezazadeh, whose hobby is listening to Turkish music, had the biggest lifts of all. He set a world record of 468 1/4 pounds in the snatch, then raised 573 pounds on a single lift in the clean and jerk to break Weller's overall record of 1,025 1/4 pounds.

"The way the weights kept going up . . . it was like a lottery," Weller said.

Just as in Atlanta in 1996, Weller (1,030 1/2 pounds), who raised 567 1/2 pounds in the clean and jerk, was beaten out by a record lift by the gold medalist. And, just as in Atlanta, Russia's Andrei Chemerkin had the final lift.

However, Chemerkin, who made a record lift to win in Atlanta, trailed by 22 pounds after the snatch. That forced him to try to raise 600 3/4 pounds on his final attempt in the clean and jerk--or 27 1/2 pounds more than any other lifter converted. He barely got the bar to his waist before dropping it, and finished fourth.

"It was Chemerkin in '96," Weller said. "And it was tough again this time."

The 385-pound Chemerkin--Russia's Andrei the Giant--essentially lost his gold when his best lift of 446 1/4 pounds trailed Rezazadeh by 22 pounds going into the clean and jerk.

During the snatch, it quickly became clear that it would take a world record to take the lead--and it did. Three times in the snatch alone.

Rezazadeh set the record of 468 1/4 pounds, but only after Danielyan (457 1/4 pounds) and Weller (462 3/4 pounds) broke it before him.

Before Tuesday, Rezazadeh owned the snatch record of 453 3/4 pounds set in November 1999.

Weller now has three Olympic medals since he was seriously injured and his wife was killed in a car accident in 1989. He got the gold at 242 1/2 pounds in 1992.

U.S. champion Shane Hamman set national records for the snatch and total lift while finishing 11th.

Hamman broke his U.S. record in the snatch, lifting 429 3/4 pounds--or 16 1/2 pounds more than the record 413 1/4 pounds he raised during the Olympic trials in July.

However, Hamman could not break his record of 507 pounds in the clean and jerk set during the trials, raising 496 pounds (225 pounds) before missing twice at 512 1/2 pounds.

Hamman's total lift of 925 3/4 pounds broke his U.S. record of 920 1/4 pounds, also set during the trials.

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