Olympics: Flamboyant 'flamingo' Li hoists China's second weightlifting gold

Li Fabin also became just the fifth weightlifter in history to win four Olympic medals.
Li Fabin also became just the fifth weightlifter in history to win four Olympic medals.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Li Fabin made it two out of two gold medals for China in weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 on Sunday (July 25) when he saw off the brave challenge of Indonesian veteran Eko Yuli Irawan in the men's 61kg class.

The flamboyant Li pulled off his signature one-legged 'flamingo lift' on his opening clean and jerk at 166kg on his way to a 313kg total.

Irawan, who went lift-for-lift with Li in a pulsating two-horse battle, was left with a final attempt at 177kg to win gold, which would have extended his own clean and jerk world record by a massive 3kg.

It proved too much for the former boy goat herder from rural Lampung in Sumatra, who at 32 became his country's most decorated Olympian by winning a second silver to add to his silver in Rio and bronzes at the London and Beijing Games.

He also became just the fifth weightlifter in history to win four Olympic medals.

Li, 28, from the southern Chinese province of Fujian, took a crucial advantage in the opening snatch discipline, despite a surprise failure with his first attempt at 137kg.

But Li's third successful attempt of 141kg gave him a 4kg advantage going into the second discipline, which he extended with a mammoth 172kg in the clean and jerk, just 2kg off Irawan's world record.

Irawan could not make up the deficit in his stronger discipline and had to settle for silver for the second successive Games on a 302kg total.

Before the big two battled it, the battle for the final podium place had been just as enthralling, with Shota Mishvelidze of Georgia failing with a final attempt at 165kg that would have given him bronze.

Saudi Arabia's Seraj Al-Saleem then failed twice at 166kg as he attempted to snatch the last medal, which left Kazakhstan's 22-year-old youngster, Igor Son, to claim bronze with a 294kg total.