Tribune News Network/AFP
Mop-topped Qatari Fares Ibrahim Elbakh emerged as a big hit at Jakarta’s International Expo Hall on Saturday as he claimed a silver medal in the men’s 94kg class at the 2018 Asian Games.
The 20-year-old came second on 381kg and proved a fans’ favourite as he was surrounded by a huge crowd of giggling teenage girls and posed for pictures with them after the medals ceremony.
“This is great. I love all my fans,” he beamed. “I’m having a great time.”
It was Qatar’s first weightlifting medal at this year’s Games and overall second for Team Qatar after Hamad al Marri won a bronze in double trap shooting on Thursday.
Four years ago at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Qatar had finished with a tally of 14 medals including ten gold. Team Qatar athletes are expected to pick up more medals in the coming days including in athletics, handball and beach volleyball.
Fares had a cumulative total lift of 166kgs in snatch (166/170/170) and 215kgs in clean and jerk (215/22/222) which got him the grand total of 381kg and the silver medal with it.
The event winner Sohrab Moradi of Iran (410kgs) broke weightlifting’s longest standing world record on his way to gold.
Moradi hoisted 189kg in the competition’s opening discipline to better the snatch record set at 188kg in 1999 by Greece’s Akakios Kakiasvilis.
Moradi, who was suspended for two years in 2013 for testing positive for banned painkiller methadone, but returned to win Olympic gold in Rio, now has a complete set of 94kg world records that will remain on the books forever.
After the Asian Games all the sport’s weight classes will change ahead of the Olympic qualifying cycle beginning at November’s World Championships.
Moradi already owned the marks for the clean and jerk (233kg) and total weight (417kg) in the men’s light heavyweight division which he set at the World Championships in Anaheim last year.
Sumpradit Sarat of Thailand was third.
“I really wanted to break the world record as it was the only one I didn't have and this was my last chance,” said Moradi.
Qatar’s Fares’ show came after Iran’s other great lifter in the competition, 85kg world record-holder Kianoush Rostami, failed three times to clean and jerk 220kg.
Kianoush was stepping up to 94kg from 85kg for these Games and despite lying second after the snatch he went home without a medal, leaving Elbakh grateful.
“I expected I could win a medal but didn't think it would be silver,” he said, after the expected Iranian one-two failed to materialise.
Moradi said he felt sorry for his compatriot. “We trained together and Kianoush was with me on the podium at 85kg many times. I hope we can both be together again in the medals at 96kg.”
Moradi just failed with an attempt at 234kg which would have bettered his own world records for the clean and jerk and total lifts.
But he did have the consolation of a new Asian Games record total of 410kg -- smashing the long-standing mark of 400kg set by Bakytbek Ahtemov of Kazakhstan in Busan 2002 -- after a clean and jerk of 221kg.