| Event type

Featherweight (≤60 kilograms), Men

Date20 September 1988 — 17:00-21:00
LocationOlympic Weightlifting Gymnasium, Ol-lim-pik Gong-won, Seoul
Participants17 from 14 countries
FormatTotal of best lifts in snatch and clean & jerk determined placement. Ties broken by lightest bodyweight.

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.

1Naim SüleymanoğluTUR342.5WRGold
2Stefan TopurovBUL312.5Silver
3Ye HuanmingCHN287.5Bronze
4Min Jun-GiKOR280.0
5Yosuke Muraki-IwataJPN277.5
6Ioannis SidiropoulosGRE265.0
7Kazushige OguriJPN260.0
8Tolentino MurilloCOL260.0
9Jhon SalazarCOL260.0
10Ángel ArroyoPUR235.0
11Juma AbuduKEN200.0
ACJoe GarcíaECU105.0
ACLionel GondranFRA115.0
ACWang CaixiCHN125.0
DNFDionisio MuñozESP
DNFAttila CzankaROU
DNFCatur Mei StudiINA