London’s curse,a millstone around champions’ neck

Steiner avoids injury after dropping 196kg on neck,becomes latest Beijing gold medallist in freak incident

Written by Associated Press | London | Published: August 9, 2012 12:44:50 am

The Olympic weightlifting competition ended with the crowning of a new super heavyweight champion and a frightening fall for the old one. Iran’s Behdad Salimikordasiabi won the last of 15 gold medals awarded in record-smashing barbell battles in London to remain unbeaten since 2009 in the sport’s heaviest weight class.

But the most stunning moment Tuesday in the ExCel center was when Matthias Steiner,gold medalist in 2008,lost his balance in his second lift and slipped to the ground with a 196-kilogram (432-pound) barbell crashing down on his neck —- a freak accident you rarely see in weightlifting.

Stunningly,the German got up moments later and was said to be not seriously injured,though he left the competition and was taken to a hospital for checkups.

German team doctor Helmut Schreiber said tests showed Steiner suffered ligament and muscle injuries but no damage to his spine. No surgery was needed. Steiner said “although I would have loved to win a medal here,abandoning the competition was the right thing to do … I am just glad that there are no fears of permanent damage.’’

London was not kind to defending champions,with one exception: The spiky-haired showman Ilya Ilyin of Kazakhstan,whose world record total in the 94-kilogram category would have been good enough to win gold in a higher weight class,too.

Most of those who tried to defend their Olympic titles fell in dramatic fashion. South Korea’s Sa Jae-hyouk appeared to pop his elbow in a hard-to-watch injury in the 77-kilogram class.

After finishing first in the snatch,Lu Yong of China was on track to repeat his 85-kilogram title when he choked and missed all attempts in the second lift,the clean and jerk. South Korea’s Jang Mi-ran,long the queen of the women’s super heavyweights,was battling for the medals to the end but finished fourth.

China,which amassed eight weightlifting gold medals in Beijing,won five in London,topping the medal standings ahead of Kazakhstan,with four gold,and North Korea with three. Iran maintained tightened its grip on the men’s super heavyweight class.

Salimikordasiabi lifted 208 kilograms in the snatch portion and took 247 kilograms in his first attempt in the clean and jerk for a total of 455 kilograms. That’s like lifting a male gorilla and a golf cart.

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