Kazakhstan’s Nijat Rahimov shattered a 15-year-old world record in the 77-kilogram weightlifting class on Wednesday, upsetting the favourite, Lyu Xiaojun of China, to take the gold medal in the event.
After his victory, his coach rushed him on the mat, and the two capped off a goofy celebration, parading around the floor and alternately jumping, hugging, and dancing. It’s among the best celebrations we’ve seen so far in Rio.
Here it is:
For as good as Rahimov’s celebration was, his gold medal does not come without controversy. As The Guardian reports, the sport of weightlifting is in the midst of a doping crisis.
Rahimov, who was born in Azerbaijan but competes for Kazakhstan, was banned in 2013 for two years after he, along with 17 other Azerbaijani weightlifters, tested positive for doping while competing. Kazakhstan’s entire weightlifting team, meanwhile, was nearly barred from competing in Rio after failures in retested doping samples from both 2008 and 2012. The country is expected to lose five weightlifting gold medals.
And so when Rahimov, who was not expected to win gold Wednesday, not only won the event but also broke a 15-year-old world record, many eyebrows were raised.
After China’s Xiaojun successfully completed his final clean and jerk, at 202 kilograms, he started to celebrate prematurely, ripping his singlet off and thinking he had defended his 2012 gold medal.
But then it was Rahimov’s turn, who moved up to 214 kilograms and successfully completed the clean and jerk. Interestingly, this left both Rahimov and Xiaojun with a total of 349 kilograms lifted over the two phases of competition, but Rahimov edged Xiaojun in the tiebreaker because he weighed less.
After the event, Egyptian weightlifter Mohamad Mahmoud, who took home bronze, seemed to question Rahimov’s victory.
“Maybe after some doping controls, some things will change,” Mahmoud said.
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