FORDE, Norway (Reuters) - Lasha Talakhadze produced the outstanding performance of the week at the European Weightlifting Championships on Saturday, beating a continental record to win gold for Georgia in the final event, the men’s +105kg.
Talakhadze was cheered by a full house of more than 1,000 at the Fordehuset venue in Norway, as he lifted a European record of 212kg in the snatch, only 2kg short of the world record held by Iran’s Behdad Salimikordibiasi.
The 22-year-old, who weighs 157kg, made six good lifts. His total of 463kg was better than silver medallist Gor Minasyan, of Armenia, by 21kg. Bronze went to Mart Seim, of Estonia.
The Georgian is a world champion in waiting, having finished second to Russia’s Aleksei Lovchev in Houston, Texas last November, where Seim was third.
Lovchev bettered two world records on his way to the world title but later tested positive. The results have yet to be officially amended.
Talakhadze himself tested positive for stanozolol in 2013 and returned to competition last year after a two-year ban.
In the other events Latvia, like Georgia, won their first gold medal of the week, and Armenia their third. Latvia’s winner was Arturs Plesnieks in the men’s 105kg. Silver was won by Arkadiusz Michalski, of Poland, with 19-year-old Simon Martirosyan, of Armenia, third.
The biggest celebration was by the German Juergen Spiess, who screamed and slapped the floor despite finishing seventh. He was close to tears after making his final lift of 213kg, which ensured he would compete at the Olympics for a third time as one of Germany’s team of four.
“I have never celebrated like that before,” said Spiess, 32.
Armenia won gold in the women’s heaviest category, +75kg, and finished top of the medals table. Hripsime Khurshudyan finished ahead of Asnastasiia Hotfrid, of Georgia.
Mercy Brown, 19, won bronze for Britain and ensured they finished top of the table for nations who had not yet qualified for the Olympics.
Editing by Toby Davis