By Kim You Jin
INCHEON, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's star weightlifter Sa Jae-hyouk was disqualified in the men's 85-kilogram match on Wednesday, coming up empty-handed in his bid to redeem himself after a severe injury that nearly crippled his career.
Sa hoisted 171㎏ in the snatch, the highest among eight competitors, but was disqualified after he failed in all of his clean-and-jerk attempts.
Tian Tao of China grabbed the gold with a total of 381㎏, while Iran's Kianoush Rostami and Uzbekistan's Ulugbek Alimov each secured the silver and bronze, respectively.
South Korean weightlifting champ Sa Jae-hyouk grimaces after being disqaulified at the men's 85-kilogram event in the Incheon Asian Games on Sept. 24, 2014. (Yonhap)
"I am very disappointed that I was not able to win any medals," Sa said during an interview after his setback with a bitter smile on his face. "I wanted to show everyone all (that I've achieved during training), so I'm very sorry about that."
Wednesday's event was a chance for the 2008 Olympic gold medalist to return to respectability after recovering from a severe elbow injury that nearly forced him to give up his career.
The Asiad host country's weightlifting icon had dislocated his right elbow during a 162-㎏ snatch attempt in the 2012 London Olympics.
Although Sa had had several major injuries throughout his career, he was able to overcome all of them to claim a spot on podiums at global competitions. The injury in London, however, was by far the worst, making his dramatic recovery all the more significant for spectators.
The 29-year-old even had to move up a weight class from his previous 77㎏ following the elbow injury, as keeping his weight down proved difficult with his physical rehab treatment.
The carefully-planned comeback, however, proved unfruitful. He even passed over his last snatch attempt in order to save up strength for the latter part of the competition, but lost his grasp on the bar in all three attempts.
Still, the athlete was not completely at a loss, as he was able to break both his personal and national snatch record.
"This was the first time for me to actually lift up 171㎏ in the snatch," Sa said. "I've never succeeded at it, even during training."
Hundreds of fans packed up the stadium on Wednesday, eager to witness the South Korean weightlifting hero get back on top after the injury. Despite his no-medal performance, the crowd cheered him on for his courageous attempt at regaining his championship status.
After mulling over his career plans going forward, the lifter said, "Next, I am going for the Olympics (in 2016)."
"This is definitely not the end, and I think that I was able to prove I haven't lost my competitive edge," Sa added.