KARACHI: Golden boy Talha Talib became the first Pakistani to top his group at the Asian Weightlifting Championships, which is a qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as he totalled with 304 kg in Ningbo, China on Sunday.
The 20-year-old was placed in Group B of the 67kg event, and topping the group against his toughest competitor — India's Jeremy Lalrinnunga — was definitely a massive feat for him in the pool of 10 weightlifters.
Talib notched up 140kg in snatch, with his best from second attempt out of three, and 164kg from his second attempt in clean and jerk out of three, as he went on to accumulated 304 kg.
While Jeremy Lalrinnunga remained on the second place with 297 kgs in total, despite being the most successful weightlifter from the South Asian region in the competition.
Talha will be hoping for his medal after Group A would finish their event in the 67kg on Monday, while according to the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation official Rashed Malik, the country is expecting a bronze medal at least.
"Talha has done brilliantly, there is no doubt he has made his mark among the top weightlifters in the continent," Malik told The Express Tribune.
Malik has been closely looking after Talha too and the second participant for Pakistan, Nooh Dastagir Butt, who will be taking on the competition in +109 kg.
"With these lifts Talha has created a new national record in clean and jerk, while beating Lalrinnunga is also something big, because Talha had fallen behind him at the South Asian level,” said Malik. “We are hoping for the bronze medal at least, as the final overall rankings will be released after Group A finishes their competition in the 67kg."
While the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was going after creating the new junior Asian record with 167kg lift, but he had failed to do so in the third attempt in clean and jerk.
"It was tough luck, and it would have been a great achievement, but we are proud of Talha. He has done all he could," added Malik.
On the other hand, Talha is the first Pakistani since 1976 Montreal Olympics qualifiers, when Muhammad Manzoor finished third but did not proceed to final rounds, to even be among the top weightlifters at the Olympic Games qualifiers.
"We have never had a weightlifter top the group in qualification rounds, this is a first," said Malik. "This is only bringing in hope for us, the chances of Talha and even Nooh qualifying for the Olympics are brighter than ever before."
The qualification for the Olympics is a complex process and the weightliters are required to compete at at least six events from 2018 onward and the Asian Championships is especially important as the weightlifters need to pass World Anti-Doping Agency test.
"There are lots of incidents where weightlifters fail the test so we want to make sure both Talha and Nooh pass it. It is very important to compete in this event and get the tests cleared for them to continue on their journey for Olympics," explained Malik. "Good results here will ensure better route for them in the next event, like Talha will be placed in Group A in the next event he competes in. So it’s a process. We are hoping to have both Talha and Nooh qualify for Tokyo 2020 and then there will be quota places as well for countries that are less represented at the Olympics."
While, Talha's event will have the results on Monday, Nooh will be going against top weightlifters in the heaviest category between the last two days of the championship, which will end on April 28.
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