After a nearly four-year hiatus from international competitions, DPR Korean weightlifters have made a triumphant return, pocketing four gold medals and setting six world records over the last three days at the Hangzhou Asiad.
Ri Song Gum, a gold medalist at the Jakarta Asian Games in the women’s 48kg category, showcased her prowess last Saturday in the women’s 49kg category. She lifted 92kg in the snatch and 124kg in the clean and jerk, tallying a total of 216kg, and setting a new world record.
Later that day, Ri’s compatriot Kang Hyong Yong dominated the women’s 55kg category by establishing a hat-trick of world records in snatch, clean and jerk, and combined. On Monday, Kim Il Gyong clinched gold in the women’s 59kg category, lifting 111kg in the snatch and 135kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 246kg. She also set a world record in the snatch, surpassing the previous mark by one kilo.
Team DPRK has intrigued the press and weightlifting enthusiasts, earning descriptions such as a “mysterious troop” and a “team full of secrets.”
Jang Song Nam, an official from DPRK’s Olympic Committee, attributed the team’s impressive performance to their rigorous daily training regimen.
“There is no secret for our success,” Jang remarked, noting that his team had missed several competitions over the last few years, including the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games.
“All weightlifters of the team trained hard for the Hangzhou Asiad,” he emphasized.
Reflecting on her journey, gold medalist Ri admitted that breaking world records was a formidable challenge, which made her victory all the more valuable.
“Four years without international competitions has been a long time for me,” she acknowledged, adding that she and her teammates have committed to daily rigorous training with the goal of rivaling China’s weightlifting team.
“When I stood on the podium, I hoped that the good news would be conveyed to my country and people as soon as possible,” she expressed.
“Like athletes from other countries, we trained at excellent gymnasiums at home to prepare for the Hangzhou Asiad,” shared 20-year-old Kim, who realized her dream of winning a title for her country.
Upon gracing the Asiad arena, the athletes received encouragement not only from their own teammates but also from Chinese spectators.
“The audience also inspired me and my teammates a lot,” Ri mentioned, adding that she and her teammates are grateful for the support.