Age isn’t weighing Lyu Xiaojun down.
The 37-year-old Chinese weightlifter became the oldest man to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport on Saturday after a tense finish in the men’s 81kg category.
Wearing his signature shiny gold shoes, Lyu lifted 170kg in the snatch and 204kg in the clean and jerk for a total 374kg.
It fell short of the 378kg he set to win gold at the 2019 world championships in Pattaya, Thailand but set an Olympic record for all the three categories of the snatch, clean and jerk and total.
It was also 7kg more than Zacarias Bonnat of the Dominican Republic who claimed silver and 9kg ahead of Italian rival Antonino Pizzolato, who won bronze.
Lyu’s win was only assured after Pizzolato tried and failed a world-record 210kg clean and jerk.
Lyu then tried the same weight but couldn’t complete the lift.
He hoisted his coach into the air to celebrate the win and kissed the Chinese flag on his singlet.
“Five years is a long time for a man of this age,” said Lyu who had been keen to bounce back from his 2016 Rio 77kg silver medal.
He said he longed to see his two children after spending most of his time away at training camps.
However, he said the sport had inspired him to become a father figure to younger weightlifters.
“It’s a beautiful art and maybe that is why I can be an athlete for such a long time,” he said.
Lyu – who also won 77kg gold in 2012 – immediately shot down retirement talk.
“This is not my last competition,” he said.
“If you see me next year (at world titles then) you will see me in Paris (2024 Games).”
By then, he could have another Olympic gold medal.
The athlete who beat Lyu to the top spot in 2016, Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan, has been suspended after being accused of switching urine samples that year.
It would be Rahimov’s second doping offence.
Bonnat’s silver was the Dominican Republic’s first medal in Tokyo and its first ever in weightlifting.
Pizzolato won Italy’s third weightlifting medal of the Tokyo Games, its best haul since 1924.