Albania’s Daniel Godelli won Europe’s first gold medals of the 2014 IWF World Championships in an exciting tussle for the men’s 77kg title.
He failed with a world record attempt of 211kg in the clean-and-jerk, but Godelli’s total of 369kg made him Albania’s first ever gold medallist at the World Championships. It was also the first time an Albanian won a world championship title in any sport on the Olympic programme.
Albania’s previous best had been the silver medal by Ilirian Suli in the men’s 85kg snatch in 2002. There was also a snatch bronze for Romela Begaj in 2011, in the women’s 58kg. She competes today (Thur) in the 63kg.
Despite the scale of the achievement Godelli declined to attend the post-event press conference, as his team said they were unable to provide an interpreter. PRK also stayed away despite Kwan Song Kim having won gold in the clean-and-jerk, leaving only Guoshun Zhong (snatch silver, clean-and-jerk bronze, overall silver) to answer questions.
Zhong, who was a junior world champion at 69kg in 2006, was selected because his more illustrious teammate and multiple champion, Liu Xiaojun, was rested after the Asian Games. China prepared two teams, one for those Games in Incheon, South Korea in September, and for these Championships in Kazakhstan.
“I have been in good form over the past year or so, but I can’t beat Liu,” said Zhong, who said he was capable, in training, of 12-13kg more than his 367kg total here. He failed with two of his clean-and-jerk attempts but so did many others. There were 17 failures and only 16 good lifts in the clean-and-jerk, which Kim won with 200kg.
Zhong praised Godelli as a formidable lifter, but said he believed the attempt at 211kg for the world record was too much: he was right.
Godelli, 22, a Junior World champion in 2011, was also Albania’s first gold medallist in the European Championships. He won the clean-and-jerk gold in front of his home crowd in Tirana in 2013. This year he was beaten for the European title by his fellow countryman Erkand Qerimaj, who made only two good snatch lifts and did not register a total here.
Kim’s gold in the clean-and-jerk takes PRK level with China on seven golds here in Almaty, with four days to go.
By Brian Oliver
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