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Weightlifting at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games:

Men's Featherweight

Weightlifting at the 1988 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games

Events:
Phases:

Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Olympic Weightlifting Gymnasium, Olympic Park, Seoul
Date Started: September 20, 1988
Date Finished: September 20, 1988
Format: Total of best lifts in snatch and clean & jerk determined placement. Ties broken by lightest bodyweight.

Gold: TUR Naim Süleymanoğlu
Silver: BUL Stefan Topurov
Bronze: CHN Ye Huanmin

Summary

The 1985-86 World Champion was Bulgarian Naum Shalamanov, who was actually born Naim Suleimanov. Suleimanov was a prodigy who began setting world records at age 15, and when only 16-years-old he became the second lifter to lift three times his body weight in the clean & jerk. He had Turkish ethnicity and was approached by Turkish lifting officials to change his nationality and compete for their country, but he refused. In 1984-85 the Bulgarian government began a crackdown on Turkish minorities and when Suleimanov returned from a training camp in Australia, his passport was conviscated and his name was changed to the more Bulgarian sounding Naum Shalamanov. This was the impetus he needed and at the 1986 World Cup competition in Melbourne, he left his team and sought asylum at the Turkish consulate. He then chose the Turkish name of Naim Süleymanoğlu.

Olympic rules require an athlete to wait three years after changing nationality before representing the new nation at the Olympics, unless the two affected nations agree on a waiver. This waiver was “given” in the form of over $1 million (US) transferred from the Turkish government to allow Süleymanoğlu to compete as a Turk at the 1988 Olympics. He came to Seoul as an overwhelming favorite in the featherweight class.

Süleymanoğlu did not disappoint his new nation, winning the gold medal by 30 kg over Bulgaria’s Stefan Topurov, who had won the 1987 World Championships when Süleymanoğlu was not yet eligible to compete. In Seoul Süleymanoğlu broke the world record in the snatch, the clean & jerk, and the total, lifting 342.5 kg, which also would have won the lightweight class, and was a remarkable 55 kg ahead of the bronze medalist, China’s [He Yuanming]. His total in Seoul is the highest total ever lifted using Sinclair Coefficients, which compares lifters of differing weights, and remained a world record until the weight classes were changed. He would return to win the gold medal at Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. During his career he won three Olympic Championships, seven overall World Championships, two overall European Championships, and set 46 world records. Through 2012 he remains the only lifter to snatch 2½ times his bodyweight, and he is usually considered the strongest lifter ever, pound-for-pound.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal K
1 Naim Süleymanoğlu 21 Turkey TUR Gold 342.5 WR
2 Stefan Topurov 24 Bulgaria BUL Silver 312.5
3 Ye Huanmin 23 China CHN Bronze 287.5
4 Min Jun-Gi 21 South Korea KOR 280.0
5 Yosuke Muraki-Iwata 28 Japan JPN 277.5
6 Ioannis Sidiropoulos 32 Greece GRE 265.0
7 Kazushige Oguri 23 Japan JPN 260.0
8 Tolentino Murillo 21 Colombia COL 260.0
9 Jhon Salazar 23 Colombia COL 260.0
10 Angel Arroyo 23 Puerto Rico PUR 235.0
11 Juma Abudu 24 Kenya KEN 200.0
AC José García 28 Ecuador ECU [105.0]
AC Lionel Gondran 21 France FRA [115.0]
AC Wang Caixi 23 China CHN [125.0]
AC Dionisio Muñoz 27 Spain ESP DNF
AC Attila Czanka 19 Romania ROU DNF
AC Catur Mei Studi 20 Indonesia INA DNF