North Korea brought home its first gold of the Asian Games on Monday when weightlifter Ri Song Gum pipped local favourite Sri Wahyuni Agustiani to win the women’s 48kg class.
Ri, who is just 4ft 7in (140cm) tall, hoisted a massive 112kg in her first clean and jerk attempt to power past Agustiani who had taken a shock one kilogramme lead after the first snatch discipline.Olympic silver medallist Agustiani, known affectionately as Yuni, hoisted 107kg on her first attempt at the clean and jerk.
She tried and agonisingly failed twice to lift the 112kg she needed for victory despite the huge cries of “Indonesia, Indonesia” ringing around the Jakarta International Expo venue.
Ri reemerged twice to attempt an Asian Games record and personal best of 117kg but departed in agony as her left knee buckled on both attempts and she had to be helped from the platform on one leg.
But draped in the North Korean flag and cheered on by a large phalanx of supporters clad in unified Korea T-shirts, Ri’s pain turned to ecstasy as she received the gold medal and belted out the anthem of the secretive nation with tears streaming down her cheeks and dribbling from her chin.
It left Yuni with yet another silver medal to add to those she won four years ago at the 17th Asiad in Incheon and again at the Rio Olympics two years ago and, crestfallen, she too was left in floods of tears.