Monday, November 15, 2010

Eko wins bronze, eyes improvement at Olympics

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Guangzhou | Mon, 11/15/2010 11:24 AM

Indonesian ace weightlifter Eko Yuli Irawan put up a brave fight to bring home bronze in the men’s 62-kilogram category at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on Sunday.

Eko competed against lifters from North Korea and China at Dongguan Gymnasium, which is about a two-hour drive south from Guangzhou. Eko lifted 141 kilograms on his second attempt, but failed to lift 144 kilograms on his third and final attempt.

In the clean and jerk category, the 21-year-old former cattle farmer lifted 170 kilograms on his second attempt but failed to lift 177 kilograms on his third.

With a combined total of 311 kilograms, Eko finished short of pre-tournament favorite Kim Un-guk of North Korea, who lifted 317 kilograms, and Chinese lifter Zhang Jie who finished with a score of 321 kilograms.

“This is the best I can do right now; I thank God and all of the people who made me get this bronze medal and I hope my country will be proud of me,” Eko said after the contest.

Eko, who is younger than the top two finishers, said he still had a good opportunity to win medals in the future, and would train harder for the 2012 London Olympics, where he said the competition would be no harder than in Guangzhou.

“Because the competitors in my class [at the Asian Games] are the best in the world,” he said.

Kim Un-guk finished first and Zhang Jie second at the 2010 World Championships in Atalya, Turkey. Eko placed fourth.

Eko’s coach, Lukman, said errors had cost his charge. “Eko made a mistake in his last attempt in the clean and jerk, but so did many lifters. He lifted up the barbel but he put it in the wrong place — right at his neck — and this surely made it hard for him to breath and he actually blacked out.”

“This was just a technical mistake because he has lifted 180 kilograms again and again in training. He
was just not in good condition,” Lukman said.

However, he said, the two years until London was plenty of time for Eko to improve. “He is still young and growing up. As long as we support him with good nutrition and better training and world class tryouts, I believe he will make it in London.”

Lukman said Eko had no rivals in Southeast Asia, citing that he had dominated the SEA Games several times. He said that he therefore needed experience in world-class competitions to compete with others of his level.

Zhang Jie, who won gold in the multi event, said he was pleased he had avenged his defeat to Kim Unguk at the World Championships in Turkey.

“In Turkey, he [Kim Un-guk] outdid me because I had a little injury, but I can beat him. The three of us will meet each other again in the future so let’s see what will happen,” Jie said through an interpreter.

Indonesian Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, who was present at the contest, said weightlifting should be given more attention in Indonesia so that it could become the second-most important sport after badminton. “The performance of our lifters at many events has proven something and there is no choice for us to give better support for them right now.”

Earlier in the day, Indonesian women’s lifter Citra Febriati topped group B in the women’s 53-kilogram class, lifting a combined total of 202 kilograms to finish ahead of Shu Ching Hsu of Chinese Taipei who lifted 196 kilograms and Aye Thanda Lwin of Myanmar who lifted 187 kilograms.

The results of the women’s 53-kilogram division must wait for the results of group A, which was to be contested in the late evening Sunday, by among others Chinese Li Ping and Jaroenrattanatarak of Thailand.

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