Fri, 17 Sep 2021

Feature: Lyu Xiaojun, staying young forever

01 Aug 2021, 22:44 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

"I enjoy the feeling of fighting with young people in the ring. People all over the world call me 'Jun, the God,' and I want to say to them that 'you are right'," Lv Xiaojun said.

TOKYO, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Age could really be just a number for a heart of champion.

At least that's the case of Lyu Xiaojun, the 37-year-old Chinese weightlifter, who made history by winning gold in the men's 81kg category, along with three new Olympic records at Tokyo 2020.

When he was competing with the other nine weightlifters -- all in their 20s -- on Saturday, Lyu showed no fear, but exuded confidence all the way.

"I never see him as a 37-year-old. In my eyes, he is always 23 or 24 years old around, in terms of the physical state or the ability to compete, he is pretty much the same as he was young," said Yu Jie, head coach of China's men's weightlifting team.

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Although he was the favorite in the men's 81kg category, Lyu did not let the illusion conquer his mind.

His younger rivals have made burgeoning progress, posing challenges in a series of continental competitions, and are eager to create a new era in Tokyo.

In the final competition on Saturday evening, despite failing on his first snatch attempt at 165kg, Lyu eventually regrouped to lift a new Olympic record of 170kg in the snatch.

He succeeded on 197kg in the first clean and jerk attempt to set an Olympic record 367kg in total, before improving it to 374kg with a 204kg second attempt, also a new Olympic record.

Already assured of his gold medal, a resilient Lyu attempted to refresh his own world record (207kg) with 210kg, but failed. However, he still became the second oldest Olympic champion representing China in any sport after Wang Yifu, who won the men's 10m air pistol shooting at Athens 2004 aged 43.

"My physical strength and technique are both in a great state," Lyu said.

Zhou Jinqiang, Chairman of the China Weightlifting Association, sang Lyu's praises, calling him the idol for many and a pillar of the Chinese national weightlifting team.

"He's set such a good example for all the players, young or old, with great perseverance, pushing the whole team forward. He is the symbol of the spirit of our team -- to climb to the top bravely," said Zhou.

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After the match, Lyu, a father of two, said his heart immediately went to his family.

"I have been working really hard to carry on over past five years, and my family have been very supportive throughout the process and they are my strength. I have two children and we video call every day. But sometimes when my boys needed me, I was not by their side. That's worst part," he said emotionally.

"Thanks to my wife, she takes on all the things by herself to take care of the kids. So, my wife deserves a great share of the gold medal!" Lyu said of his wife Guo Xiyan, who was also a Chinese national team weightlifter.

"I liked weightlifting at a young age, but now it's my love. It's part of my life. This is why I will carry on until I'm 37 years old, or even 40," Lyu told a press conference.

The three-time Olympian didn't rule out the possibility of competing at the Paris Games three years from now.

"If you saw me compete at the World Championships next year, you will find me at the Paris Olympics," he said.

"I enjoy the feeling of fighting with young people in the ring," Lyu said to his fans. "People all over the world call me 'Jun, the God,' and I want to say to them that 'you are right'." .

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