Lesman Paredes of Colombia is set to compete for Bahrain at the Asian Championships ©Getty Images

An Olympic medallist from Armenia and a world record holder from Colombia have switched nationality and will represent host nation Bahrain at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in October.

They are Gor Minasyan, a silver medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and the Colombian 96 kilograms world champion and snatch world record holder Lesman Paredes.

Their presence, alongside teams from the continent's strongest nations, will give the event "almost a World Championships feel" said Eshaq Ebrahim Eshaq, President of the Bahrain Weightlifting Federation, who has bold plans to promote the sport in the Gulf state.

Bahrain, which has never before hosted a weightlifting event of this stature, and which has never won medals at senior continental or World Championships, also has an improving youth and junior set-up.

Last month, it had its first-ever medallist at the Asian Youth Championships when Husain Ali Saif finished third in the men's 89kg in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Noor Yahya, who was sixth in Tashkent in the women's 71kg at the age of 13, will be in the team in October alongside Saif and 20-year-old Zainab Yahya, who competed at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Junior World Championships this year, finishing 14th at 64kg.

Three Olympic champions from last year - Meso Hassona from Qatar, Akbar Djuraev from Uzbekistan and Hidilyn Diaz from the Philippines - plus another six medallists from Tokyo feature in the preliminary entries for the event, which runs from October 6 to 16 in Manama.

China, whose athletes have not competed outside their own borders for more than a year, has not entered its Olympic champions but is planning to send a team, and there will be a strong presence from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Indonesia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and elsewhere.

Rizki Juniansiah from Indonesia, Rok Shin from South Korea and Rakhat Bekbolat from Kazakhstan, three of the most exciting young talents in weightlifting, also feature in the early entries.

Persuading Minasyan and Paredes to switch is part of Bahrain's strategy and by hosting the Asian Championships, the country hopes to be on the sport's global stage for the first time.

Armenia's Gor Minasyan is set to join Lesman Paredes in switching nationality ©Getty Images
Armenia's Gor Minasyan is set to join Lesman Paredes in switching nationality ©Getty Images

Both newcomers, who will hold a press conference in the build-up to the Championships, will have strong medal chances in both snatch and total in their respective weight categories, over-102kg and 102kg.

Minasyan, 27, has finished among the medals behind the unbeatable Georgian super-heavyweight Lasha Talakhadze five times at the Olympic Games and the IWF World Championships since 2016.

His career-best total of 464kg is well ahead of his rivals but Djuraev, who has moved up to the super-heavyweights after winning gold at 109kg in Tokyo, is likely to make it a close contest.

Djuraev made an impressive total of 446kg in winning gold at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya last week, where Uzbekistan topped the medals table.

Paredes, 26, set a snatch world record of 187kg when he won the world title at 96kg last year, having earlier won the Pan American title at 102kg.

He will compete at 96kg in Manama.

Both men were given the blessing of their National Federation to change nationality and Bahrain did not pay any money for their registrations.

They can expect top-class facilities and a better income in Bahrain.

Both Colombia and Armenia have an array of elite male talent but because of the cut in Olympic Games athlete quotas for weightlifting, neither nation can send more than three men and three women to the Paris 2024 Games.

Reduced quotas for both nations last year meant that neither Minasyan nor Paredes competed in Tokyo.

There could be more changes of nationality, not involving Bahrain, before qualifying for Paris begins at the 2022 IWF World Championships in Colombia in December.