North Korea win eighth weightlifting gold then celebrate alongside South

Daniel HICKS
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North and South Korean weightlifters congratulate each other and pose for photos together at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Monday

Kim Kuk Hyang extended North Korea's record tally to eight Asian Games weightlifting golds Monday before there were remarkable scenes as they were joined in celebration by their South Korean neighbours.

The two countries are technically still at war but it did not stop their weightlifters exchanging warm greetings and posing for photos together as eight days of competition at the Jakarta International Expo drew to a close.

South Korea finished a distance behind their neighbours from across the fortified border with three silvers and two bronzes.

"Although our rankings were different in the medals table, I think we have shown the world that the people of Korea are the greatest as one," Kim said.

"I was worried I would be the only one not to do it, but since I won the gold medal I am very happy," said Kim after completing North Korea's record haul of eight of the 15 golds on offer. They also bagged a silver and a bronze.

Kim enjoyed a comfortable win in the heaviest women's class of +75kg with a total of 291kg as the secretive nation doubled their previous highest Asian Games weightlifting best of four golds set at Incheon 2014.

South Korea's Son Young-hee took the silver on 282kg and Thailand's Duangaksorn Chaidee the bronze with 280kg.

- Giant hat-trick -

Earlier Behdad Salimikordasiabi became only the third weightlifter in history to complete a hat-trick of Asian Games wins.

Salimikordasiabi, the 2012 Olympic champion in the men's superheavyweight (+105kg) class, vanquished controversial doping cheat Saeid Alihosseini in a battle of the Iranian giants.

Salimikordasiabi, who won gold at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014, battled his countryman lift-for-lift in a two-horse race for gold.

In claiming his third gold Salimikordasiabi matched South Korean superheavyweight Kim Tae-hyun, who won in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 Asian Games, and Iranian great Mohammad Nassiri, who won lightweight categories in the 1966, 1970 and 1974 Asiads.

"I'm so happy that after Mohammad Nassiri I am only the second man from Iran to win three gold medals in the Asian Games," he told AFP after his winning total of 461kg.

The pair could not be separated after both opened with a snatch of 208kg, but it was Salimikordasiabi who prevailed with his final clean and jerk of 253kg, removing his shoes and belt and kneeling to kiss the stage in thanks.

Alihosseini controversially took silver ahead of Salimikordasiabi in the 2017 world championships in Anaheim in his first competition after returning from an eight-year doping ban.

The 2012 Olympic champion Salimikordasiabi revealed he been hampered by a leg injury that required surgery after last year's Worlds in the Californian city.

"After my operation I've had a very bad feeling here," he said pointing to his left knee.

"It had been very hard to train. I don't know how I won. I was determined to do my best. That's why I give thanks to God."

Alihosseini failed with his final attempt at 254kg on Monday and had to settle for silver on 456kg.

Alihosseini was originally banned for life from weightlifting for repeated positive tests for anabolic steroids. He was reprieved in 2017 when his suspension was changed to 12 and then cut to eight years.

Rustam Djangabaev of Uzbekistan, fourth in last year's world championships, was edged into bronze after a lifetime best clean and jerk of 252kg took him to 455kg, just 1kg adrift of Alihosseini.