A dog made an appearance during the Online International Weightlifting Cup ©IWF

Ukraine’s Dmytro Chumak was the star of the show in what was arguably the best online weightlifting competition ever staged - though Australia’s Eileen Cikamatana, a strong China team and a dog did their best to upstage him.

The men’s 109 kilograms contest featured only four athletes but it was the highlight of the Online International Weightlifting Cup over the weekend, organised and hosted by Uzbekistan to mark its Independence Day, which falls on September 1.

Uzbekistan had high expectations from Akbar Djuraev, the 20-year-old junior world champion who duly delivered with a total of 420kg, which would have been a career-best in a live competition sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

Online competitions - of which there will be many during the COVID-19 pandemic - do not count for official results, records, or Olympic qualifying because of the challenges of officiating and anti-doping.

Chumak, who is 10 years older than Djuraev and is putting everything into his effort to win a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, responded by making his final lift to win by 1kg.

His very impressive 421kg was higher total than anyone has made in 109kg qualifying for Tokyo apart from the favourite, Armenia’s Simon Martirosyan.

Chumak’s 185kg snatch was a personal best by 5kg, and his 236kg in clean and jerk was 11kg better than any previous effort, giving him an unofficial 16kg hike on total.

The big difference between this performance and his sixth and fourth-place finishes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (94kg) and 2019 IWF World Championships (102kg) was that he made five of his six attempts, compared to only two in Rio and three in Thailand last year.

Chumak was unable to walk two weeks before the Rio Games because of back and thigh injuries, and his career also stalled when he took up a job as a bodyguard for more than a year.

Cikamatana was once more in imperious form in the women’s 81kg, making a total of 260kg - better than anyone in the Tokyo lists - to finish ahead of Venezuela’s Dayana Chirinos, clear winner of the best celebration of the weekend after she made her final lift.

Eileen Cikamatana, who now competes for Australia, was one of the most impressive performers
Eileen Cikamatana, who now competes for Australia, was one of the most impressive performers

Cikamatana, 20, made five from six with a 115kg snatch and 145kg clean and jerk.

Another Venezuelan, Kaydomar Vallenilla, was hugely impressive in winning the men’s 89kg in which he beat another Uzbekistan favourite, Savarbek Zafarjonov.

Vallenilla, described by local media as "one of the jewels of Venezuelan sport", totalled 377kg, better than anyone in the qualifying list.

China had three wins in the women’s events; Luo Xiaomin finished clear of Colombia’s María Lobón at 55kg; Huang Ting was 5kg too good for Romania’s Loredana Toma at 71kg; and Li Wenwen easily won the super-heavyweights with 285kg.

In the men’s events Tian Fuxuan’s 391kg put him 1kg ahead of Canada’s Boady Santavy - who declined his third attempt in snatch and clean and jerk - at 102kg, but Yang Zhe was only third behind Chumak and Djuraev.

Uzbekistan won the 67kg through Adkhamjon Ergashev, who failed with his fifth lift but came back to make his sixth with a heavily-strapped right thigh and left knee to finish on 330kg ahead of Colombia’s Luis Mosquera and Ryan Grimsland of USA.

The dog, a German Shepherd, made two appearances when it walked across the camera during Alexandra Escobar’s lifts in the 59kg at her gym in Ecuador.

Richard Mason, the Canadian announcer, gave it a favourable mention.

With 150 lifters from more than 30 nations, and ever more impressive presentation on the IWF’s YouTube channel, the competition was a resounding success.

Ursula Papandrea, the IWF’s Interim President, said: "Such online competitions will motivate many athletes around the world to continue to train and compete even harder in these difficult times."