Chinese success in weightlifting is taking place both on and off the platform ©Brian Oliver/ITG

There were another two world records for host nation China at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup in Fuzhou - where the all-round success of Chinese weightlifting is clear to see in terms of performance, structure and even in business.

"China has the best system in the world - better even than the Soviet Union in the past," said Maxim Agapitov, President of the Russian Weightlifting Federation.

Russia's team, which had a six-from-six winner in the men's 96 kilograms in Egor Klimonov, were invited to train for a week before this Olympic qualifying tournament at the nearby IWF Fuzhou Training Centre.

The impressive centre, which opened four years ago thanks to the efforts of former national team head coach Chen Wenbin, has more than 50 training stations, a competition platform, residential blocks for a large team of coaches and athletes from Fujian province, offices and other sport facilities.

Agapitov, who is working to form a closer relationship between Russia and China, has also visited another Chinese weightlifting centre with even more training stations.

These provincial centres are part of a nationwide structure that produces an endless stream of champions - five gold medallists at every Olympic Games this century, plus dozens of world champions and world record holders.

Two of those world champions competed here today in the women's 76 kilograms – Wang Zhouyu and Zhang Wangli, who moved up here after winning at 71kg in last year's IWF World Championships.

Wang had to settle for third place behind North Korea's Rim Jong Sim, the Olympic champion at 75kg, and Zhang, who set world records for clean and jerk - 156kg - and total - 274kg.

Zhang's victory means China has a 100 per cent record in the five women's events it has contested in Fuzhou, with eight world records.

Zhang Zhigou, chairman of ZKC, the company which has designed new discs for Tokyo 2020 ©Brian Oliver/ITG
Zhang Zhigou, chairman of ZKC, the company which has designed new discs for Tokyo 2020 ©Brian Oliver/ITG

China has also won two men's events but had to settle for second place in the 96kg won by Klimonov on 376kg from Tian Fuxuan, 10kg behind.

Even the weights they lift here tell a tale of Chinese success.

The new-design discs - with inner grooves to make them easier to handle for lifters and loaders - will be in use at Tokyo 2020, the third Olympic Games for which Chinese equipment manufacturer ZKC is the official supplier. 

It is a remarkable turnaround for a former machine manufacturing company that nearly went bankrupt and, at one point, had only one employee after first turning to weightlifting in 1983.

"My father went into weightlifting after a friend of his, who was a weightlifting referee, introduced him to the sport," said Zhang Zhiguo, son of the founder and now chairman of ZKC.

"The development of ZKC coincided with the development of the Chinese national team.

"There is so much media coverage now, so many people are involved in the sport compared to the past.

"Demand is increasing all the time, and from making 10 sets of weights a year we now make 4,000 to 5,000, and sell them around the world."

Originally, back in the years when Europe dominated weightlifting, ZKC imported their steel from Germany because athletes were not happy with the quality of domestic steel.

As the balance in weightlifting swung towards Asia, so China made better steel, and from 2006 ZKC has used Chinese materials to make discs and bars – including special lightweight bars and weights for the thousands of Chinese children in weightlifting programmes at schools.