Snatched, Cleaned, Jerked, Crowned!: Nazik Avdalyan becomes independent Armenia’s first weight lifting world champ

A team of Armenian weightlifters were given a heroes’ welcome at home as they returned from South Korea with a load of World Championship medals.

The most memorable and valuable of Armenian victories at the World Weightlifting Championships in Goyang, north of Seoul, was that of 23-year-old Gyumri native Nazik Avdalyan, who beat a Russian rival to take gold in the 69-kg section.

The last time an Armenian weightlifter won at world championship was in 1989, when Israel Militonyan managed to win gold in competitions in Athens still as part of the Soviet team. Besides being independent Armenia’s first world champion in weightlifting, Nazik Avdalyan is also the tenth (independent) Armenian world champion in all sports overall. (This also makes Avdalyan a gold medal hopeful for the 2012 Olympics in London).

“We knew we would not return home without a victory. The preliminary results of our athletes were showing that. In weightlifting it is a little easier to make forecasts than in other sports,” Weightlifting Federation Secretary-General Pashik Alaverdyan (international category reference and head coach). “We felt that our work of many years would finally produce results.”

Avdalyan won in both events, 119 kg in snatch and 147 kg in clean and jerk, finishing on top in combination (with the overall result of 226 kg). But the gold was decided in a dramatic competition with Russia’s Oksana Slivenko, who was ahead of the Armenian athlete until the very last approach, in which Avdalyan could lift 147 kg in clean and jerk and take the gold.

“It was very surprising for the audience that Nazik managed to hold the weight for so long over her head, but I’ll say that it is connected with her gymnastic skills. She is also a master of sport in acrobatics. Remember her spectacular backward flip. That was an amazing thing in weightlifting to show such flexibility,” says Alaverdyan, referring to Avdalyan’s celebration after her lift.

Avdalyan’s teammate 22-year-old Hripsime Khurshudyan (75 kg) won two “small” bronzes (snatch, clean and jerk) and an overall bronze in the combination of the two events. In snatch she lifted 120 kg, and in clean and jerk her result was 147, making a total of 267 kg in both.

(Kazakhstan's Svetlana Pobedova won the champion title, lifting 132 kg in the snatch and 160 kg in the clean and jerk. She set new records with a 292 kg combination 132+160. Lei Chao (China) took silver with a result of 269 kg (120+149).

In the men’s section, 21-year-old Arakel Mirzoyan (69 kg) won a silver medal, lifting 334 kg in a snatch, clean and jerk (154+180). The winner in the section was China’s Liao Hui, who lifted a total of 346 kg in combination. (Indonesian Triyatno was the third on 330 kg).
Twenty-one-year-old Tigran G. Martirosyan (77 kg) was also second in his weight category (170+200). Chinese weightlifters Lu Xiaojun won gold (174+204) and Dajin Su (165+200) took bronze, respectively.