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Failure before success – Weightlifting – Moscow 1980 Olympic Games

Much of the focus leading up to the weightlifting tournament at the 1980 Olympic Games was on an injury to Russian legend Vassily Alekseyev.

The scene was set for the 353-pound giant from Ryazan to make it an unprecedented hat-trick of gold medals in the super heavyweight category after record-breaking triumphs in Munich and Montreal.

However an injury originally picked up just before the 1978 world championships in Pennsylvania restricted his chances and he was eliminated in the early stages.

Russian lifters dominated, however, with five of the 10 gold medals on offer taken by the home contingent.

Kanybek Osmanaliyev and Viktor Mazin took the honours in the now defunct flyweight and featherweight divisions, the former winning by the slenderest of margins on lower bodyweight.

Yet it was two Bulgarians who set the competition alight at the Izmailovo Sports Palace.

First Yanko Rusev took the lightweight gold with a new Olympic and world record, his overall total of 342.5kgs including a world record jerk of 195kgs putting him streets ahead of the field.

Team-mate Assen Zlatev then followed suit in the middleweight category to take gold with 360kgs and then achieved a jerk world record of 205.5kgs after the competition had been completed.

Home fans had something to cheer about once more when Yurik Vardanian crushed the opposition in the light heavyweight field, winning by an unprecedented 27.5kgs with a winning total of 400kgs, a score which would have won him gold in the first and middle heavyweight classes.

Belarus-born Leonid Taranenko took the heavyweight gold for Russia, and 12 years later was to gain a silver for the unified team at the Barcelona Games at super-heavyweight level.

With Alekseyev bowing out in the early stages, Sultan Rakhmanov proved a worthy successor by jerking an eye-watering 245kgs to lift gold by a healthy margin in the super heavyweight.

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