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‘Pocket Hercules’

Posted November. 21, 2017 07:31,   

Updated November. 21, 2017 08:20


Men of Herculean strength appear in the classics of East and West. Samson tears a lion limb from limb in the Old Testament and Hercules beats a lion to death with a club in Greek Mythology. In the modern era, weightlifting distinguishes a man of the greatest strength in a four-meter wide square ring. Weightlifting was included as an official sport in the first Athens Olympic Games in 1896.

Korea won the first Olympic medal in weightlifting. The late weightlifter Kim Seong-jib won a middle-weight bronze medal in the London Olympics in 1948. It was categorized into the snatch (lifting a barbell at once) and clean and jerk (lifting a barbell onto the shoulder and over the head) in the Munich Olympics in1972. Women’s heavyweight has a short history as it was only adopted in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Weightlifting is a lonely battle with oneself. Weightlifters try to lose weight before going into a competition by not having any food, not even water. South Korean Olympic weightlifter Jang Mi-ran has the world record of 326 kilograms in snatch and clean and jerk, but suffered from aftereffects of a car accident. She bid a farewell to weightlifting by kissing her hand that touched a barbell in the 2012 London Olympic Games after failing to lift the barbell in the clean and jerk. Poet Moon In-soo said it was “the most beautiful farewell in the world.”

There was a long-time myth that humans could not lift three times his weight. Turkey's triple Olympic champion weightlifter Naim Süleymanoglu broke this myth by lifting 190 kilograms in the clean and jerk (the world record was 160 kilograms at that time) in the final of the 60-kilogram class in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He also lifted 152.5 kilograms (previous world record was 150 kilograms) in the snatch, which was 2.5 times heavier than his own weight. The Olympic weightlifter at 147 centimeters was nicknamed “Pocket Hercules.” He was born in Bulgaria, but took asylum in Turkey when Turkish Muslims were forced to change their names. He set a milestone in weightlifting – won three Olympic gold medals and seven world championships; and renewed world records 46 times. Naim Süleymanoglu died of liver failure at the age of 50 on Saturday, but he will be remembered in history.