Chinese weightlifters showed why they are the dominant force in the sport with a number of phenomenal performances at the National Games of China, which ended in Tianjin today.
It is unlikely the top Chinese lifters, five of whom won Olymic gold medals at Rio 2016, will be able to add International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championship titles to their domestic success.
China is among nine nations expected to be banned from the World Championships – to be held in Anaheim from November 27 until December 5 – because of multiple positives in the retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
If the bans are ratified by the IWF Executive Board, which meets in Romania on September 30 and October 1, some of the strongest favourites will be absent from Anaheim.
With so many other top nations also facing bans – Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey - several events are likely to feature medallists who are well down the 2017 ranking lists.
The highlight of the National Games, a multi-sport ‘Chinese Olympics’ held every four years, was the victory of Shi Ziyong over Liao Hui in the men’s 69 kilograms.
Five times lifters attempted clean and jerks heavier than the world record, held by Liao, of 198kg.
None was successful but this was still the best quality contest seen anywhere in the world this year.
Liao, 29, won the Olympic gold medal at Beijing 2008, and retired when he failed to make the team for Rio 2016.
He returned to training last December and his total of 354kg in Tianjin was six kilograms below his all-time best.
Shi Zhiyong, named as a child prodigy after the 2004 Olympic champion of the same name, and is coached by the 1996 and 2000 champion Zhan Xugang, made only two of his six attempts but that was enough for a 358kg total.
The Chinese have so much strength in depth that even the 10th-placed finisher, Feng Shifa, totalled 320kg.
Neither of the 2017 European and PanAmerican champions, Bernardin Matam of France and Luis Javier Mosquera of Colombia, would have made the top eight in Tianjin.
It was a similar story in the other two lightest men’s categories, the 56kg in which Li Fabin won with 287kg, and the 62kg, won by Chen Lijun with 321kg.
Neither of the European or PanAmerican champions at 62kg would have made the top 10 in China, while the 56kg gold medallists would have been 11th and seventh respectively.
Best of the women were the lightest and heaviest lifters, 48kg winner Hou Zhihui with 208kg, and Olympic super-heavyweight champion Meng Suping, who posted a career-best total of 329kg.
The probable absence from Anaheim of Meng and the Russian Tatiana Kashirina leaves this category in Anaheim, like many others, wide open.
Among the women’s super-heavyweight beneficiaries will be Sarah Robles, the American, while those nations expected to take advantage of the absence of nine top rivals include North Korea - who excelled at the recent Universiade in Taipei - Colombia, Iran, Thailand and the US.
Phil Andrews, chief executive of USA Weightlifting, said, "The strength in depth of the China National Games Weightlifting is the envy of the world.
"To have lifters at the National level at or close to World Record marks is something every National Federation aspires to."