By Kim You Jin and Yoo Jee-ho
INCHEON, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korean weightlifter Om Yun-chol claimed his country's first gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games here on Saturday in a record-breaking fashion.
Om broke his own world record with a lift of 170㎏ in the clean and jerk. He also hoisted 128㎏ in the snatch earlier for an Asian Games record total of 298㎏ at the Moonlight Festival Garden Weightlifting Venue in the western port city.
Om, 22, had lifted 169㎏ during the Asian Senior Interclub Weightlifting Championship held in Pyongyang last year.
This is the first career Asiad gold for Om, but the results were very much anticipated by many for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and the 2013 world champ.
Om Yun-chol of North Korea leaps in the air in celebration of his weightlifting gold medal at the Asian Games on Sept. 20, 2014. (Yonhap)
"With our leader Kim Jong-un's teachings in mind, I pledged to do my best," the North Korean weightlifter said in an interview after his victorious feat.
When asked how he had felt when he was falling behind in second place just before his last record-breaking lift, Om said he knew he could defeat the other athlete since he was "confident in clean and jerking," and added that he had been longing to break the world record once more when he had the chance.
Thach Kim Tuan from Vietnam came up short after lifting 294㎏ in total and won the silver, but was able to set a record for the Asian Games by snatching 134㎏, which is also the highest score among all Asian athletes within his division.
China's Wu Jingbiao ended in third place by lifting a total of 288㎏.
A crowd of South Korean fans sat in the bleachers and cheered for the North Korean athlete, holding together a sign that read "Om Yun-chol is the best" in Korean, while shouting out his name and the phrase "We are one," to their northern neighbor.
More than 10 officials from the North Korean delegation were also seen in the stands wearing matching sweatsuits of red and white, waving the communist country's national flag to cheer for their team member.
Paek Il-hwa, another North Korean weightlifter who had finished fourth and missed out on a medal during the 48㎏ women's competition held earlier on Saturday, also joined in the festive mood by holding her national flag with her fellow delegates.
North Korea has sent 150 athletes to compete in 14 sports in the 17th Asian Games. The country had never before finished outside the top 10 at an Asiad since it first participated in the competition in 1974, but it has been lagging in the two previous Asiads in 2010 and 2006, during which it finished 13th and 16th, respectively.