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September 16, 2000
Mutlu lifts gold with three world recordsGideon Long
Turkey's Halil Mutlu broke three world records on Saturday to take Olympic gold in the men's 56 kg weightlifting competition in spectacular fashion.
Mutlu, the defending Olympic champion, snatched 138 kg to beat his previous world record of 137.5 kg set at the world championships in Athens in November 1999.
Roared on by around 500 Turks at the Sydney Convention Centre, he then hoisted 167.5 kg above his head in his second attempt at the clean-and-jerk to eclipse the world best of 166.5 kg he set at the European championships in Sofia in April this year.
The diminutive Turk then attempted to take the record higher with a lift of 170 kg but failed to get the bar to his chest.
Nevertheless, his total of 305.0 kg was 2.5 kg more than the world record of 302.5 kg which he also set at the Athens world championship.
For world record purposes, only increases of 2.5 kg or more are recognised when calculating the overall world record. For the snatch and clean-and-jerk records, all weight increases are recognised.
Bulgaria's Ivan Ivanov took silver with a total of 292.5 kg, a full 12.5 kg below the phenomenal Turk. Ivanov snatched 130 kg and jerked 162.5 kg, kneeling to kiss his weights after his final lift.
China's Wu Wenxiong claimed bronze with lifts of 125 kg in the snatch and 162.5 kg in the clean-and-jerk for a total of 287.5 kg.
Wu finished with the same total as compatriot Zhang Xiangxiang, the 1996 Olympic silver medallist, but took the medal due to lighter bodyweight -- 55.48 kg to Zhang's 55.94.
"It's good to break the world record. It's a huge success," said Mutlu, the smallest men's weightlifter at the Olympics at just 1.50 metres (four feet 11 ins).
His extraordinary performance marked him down as the natural successor to Turkish "Pocket Hercules" Naim Suleymanoglu, who will seek an unprecedented fourth weightlifting gold medal in the 62 kg category on Sunday.
Suleymanoglu came out of retirement to compete here and is sure to bow out after these Games.
Both men were born ethnic Turks in Bulgaria.
Suleymanoglu defected to Turkey in 1986 when the communist authorities began suppressing his people by banning the Turkish language, closing their mosques and forcing them to change their Islamic names.
His high-profile arrival in Ankara -- he was flown in on a government jet and kissed the ground as he stepped onto the tarmac -- raised the profile of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria and helped persuade thousands more to leave.
One of them was Mutlu in 1989.
He was fifth in the Barcelona Olympics and has been almost invincible ever since, winning three world championship and five European championship titles.
His dominance of the category was summed up by a jubilant Ivanov, who never expected to challenge the Turk for gold.
"I'm the happiest man in the world," the Bulgarian said. "It was fantastic to finish second and I feel like I have succeeded."
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