Thursday, January 10, 2008

Weight lifter Eko gives RI another boost

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima

Eko Yuli Irawan delivered one gold medal for Indonesia in the weightlifting competition at the 2007 Southeast (SEA) Games, as well as breaking the Games record here Saturday.

The 18-year-old lifted a total of 284 kilograms in the men's Under-56 kilogram event to claim the gold, followed by his close rival Anh Tuan Hong of Vietnam with 281kg and host lifter Pongsak Maneetong with 256kg.

Eko lifted 126kg in the snatch and then 158kg in the clean and jerk to break the Games record of 150kg created by compatriot Jadi Setiadi in the 2003 Games in Hanoi, while Anh Tuang Hong lifted 128 in the snatch and 153 in the clean and jerk.

"We know Eko is good at the clean and jerk while Anh Tuan Hong is very good at the snatch. Therefore, we had expected Eko to lift more in the clean and jerk, and he successfully met our expectations for the gold," weightlifting coach Joni Firdaus told reporters after the competition.

The victory gain Eko a Rp 200 million (about US$21,600) cash bonus from the government.

"I dedicate this medal to my mother and father, and I will build a house for them and help set them up in a small business," said Eko, who started weightlifting training six years ago.

"My dream is to compete in the Olympic Games," he added.

Indonesia has notched up enough points for four weightlifters to compete in the Olympics, but the decision on who will actually do so rests with the team manager.

Eko said that if he was selected for the Olympic, he would aim to lift 130kg in the snatch and 160kg in the clean and jerk.

Indonesian Weightlifting, Powerlifting and Bodybuilding Association (PABBSI) chairman Adang Darajatun praised Eko's triumph, saying he had been performing consistently in recent international events.

"Now we are on the right track to win four golds, and we hope we will be able to meet our target in the remaining four days," Adang said, adding that Eko's victory could boost his compatriots' zeal.

Separately, Indonesia's Okta Dwi Pramita earned a silver in the women's 53kg division after lifting a total of 187kg.

The gold went to host lifter Suda Chaleephay, who lifted a total of 202kg, while Vietnam's Thi Bich Ha Nguyen took the bronze with 185kg.

Indonesia won two gold medals in the Philippines two years ago and is hoping to earn more in this year's event.

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