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His Only Enemy is Body Weight

Posted August. 16, 2004 22:01,   


“I lifted the barbell with all my fervor and soul.”

Turkey’s “Little Dynamo” Halil Mutlu (31) achieved his third straight gold medal in Olympic weightlifting. On August 16, Mutlu earned a gold medal by lifting a total of 295kg (135kg snatch, 160kg clean and jerk) at the men’s 56kg class weightlifting event held at the Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall in Athens.

There are only four weightlifting athletes with three consecutive gold medals at the Olympics: Mutlu, “Pocket Hercules” Naim Suleymanoglu (37, Turkey), Pyrros Dimas (33, Greece), and Khaki Kakiasvilis (35, Greece). Among them, Dimas and Kakiasvilis are again entering the 85kg and 94kg classes later on in the Athens Olympics to challenge for four consecutive gold medals, the most in Olympics history.

Standing at only 1m50, Mutlu was born in Bulgaria but escaped minority oppression by moving to Turkey at the age of 16. He began lifting at 18. He always insisted, “My hero is Suleymanoglu,” even imitating the way Suleymanoglu walked around with his hands in his pockets. In the last nine years, Mutlu has been undefeated in a variety of international competitions. However, his idol Suleymanoglu predicted that Mutlu will not achieve any special results because of a serious shoulder injury suffered last year. Furthermore, not being able to keep his body weight under control, he had to raise his weight class temporarily to 62kg.

However, Mutlu, which means “happiness,” did not falter, saying, “The only important thing is that I love weightlifting and competing. I trained like an athlete in his teens because the reason for my strength is my training.” Through endless training, he succeeded in rehabilitation and weight loss, conquering the world again at 56kg.

He announced that he will compete in the 62kg division in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, committing to the challenge of four consecutive gold medals.

Chinese journalists asked, “Is it because you fear facing your Chinese rival, Wu Meijin?” Mutlu replied, “I have definitely never feared him. I know how to win. My only enemy is my body weight.”

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com