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A Record-Breaking Show by Iranian Weightlifter

Reza Zadeh defends his super-heavyweight title and establishes a world clean-and-jerk mark. U.S. lifter Hamman takes seventh.

August 26, 2004|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — Maybe Shane Hamman should challenge Hossein Reza Zadeh to a round of golf.

Hamman, an eight-time American national weightlifting champion, and 15 of the strongest men in the world took their shots at unseating Reza Zadeh as Olympic super-heavyweight lifting gold medalist Wednesday. They all wound up admiring him from afar, applauding the Iranian giant for breaking his own world record.

Four lifts into the competition, Reza Zadeh had clinched his second gold medal. Then he set his sights on a world clean-and-jerk record -- 581 pounds.

After failing in his first attempt, he succeeded on his second try. With his field-leading mark in the snatch portion of the event, 460 1/2 pounds, Reza Zadeh, 26, lifted 1,041 1/2 total pounds, equaling his world-record total at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"Hossein is the strongest guy I've ever seen," said Hamman, who finished seventh. "You see how easily he stands up with the bar, you can see he's very, very strong. Even people who aren't lifters can see it."

Reza Zadeh's total lift was 38 1/2 pounds better than the 1,003 pounds hefted by silver medalist Viktors Scerbatihs of Latvia. Velichko Cholakov of Bulgaria took the bronze with a total lift of 986 1/2 pounds.

Hamman, bidding to become the first American to win an Olympic medal in the super-heavyweight division, finished with a total of 948 pounds. His clean-and-jerk mark of 523 1/2 pounds eclipsed his U.S. record.

Still, he was disappointed. "Finishing seventh was not what I was looking at. I really thought that I could be in the medals this year if the right things hap- pened ... ."

Hamman, who frequently jokes that he will pursue his PGA Tour card after retiring from weightlifting, probably won't be switching careers any time soon. For one thing, he plays to a 13 handicap. For another, he's 32 years old, prime time for a world-class weightlifter, and he said he hadn't ruled out a run at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I'm not going to commit for another four years tonight, but I'm not going to retire," he said. "I'm going to take it year by year after this.... I'm still getting stronger. I think I have my best performances ahead of me."

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