Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia won his seventh world title today ©IWF

Lasha Talakhadze had to work hard to win his seventh straight world title, and he will have to work harder to hold off his challengers, according to his coach.

Five men in the super-heavyweight A Group, the final session of the 2023 IWF World Championhips in Riyadh, made a total of 450 kilograms or more to put Talakhadze under more pressure than usual.

The Georgian made 220-253-473 ahead of the Armenian Varazdat Lalayan on 212-248-460 and Gor Minasyan, lifting for Bahrain, on 213-246-459.

The others on 450kg or more were Ali Davoudi from Iran and Simon Martirosyan from Armenia. 

Davoudi was desperately close to taking clean and jerk gold. He just failed with his final attempt at 255kg and finished 203-249-452.

Martirosyan, who weighed 47kg less than Talakhadze on 130kg, made 200-250-450. All five of the 450-plus group failed with their final attempt.

"I like it very much to have others who are close to me, I’m happy with that," said Talakhadze, world record holder and double Olympic champion.

When he failed with his last lift at 260kg - up 3kg, at his own request, on the number suggested by his coach Giorgi Asanidze - it made no difference to the result because Talakhadze was 13kg clear.

"It’s not such a big weight for me - I must do better and I will make it next time," he said.

Asanidze believes he will have to if he is to extend his winning run which started at the 2015 World Championships.

"The others are closing in on Lasha. The standard he showed today will not be enough any more," said Asanidze.

"He was not at his very best here, but the only thing that mattered today was for him to be champion again. He will have to regain top form next time."

Despite a gold-winning performance from Lasha Talakhadze, his coach Giorgi Asanidze, in picture, feels the
Despite a gold-winning performance from Lasha Talakhadze, his coach Giorgi Asanidze, in picture, feels the "standard he showed today will not be enough any more" ©Brian Oliver

Asanidze also said that the team had been "affected by the situation" that Georgia finds itself in after two recent doping positives, which the federation believes were the result of sabotage.

Talakhadze had slightly strained his left wrist in attempting that last lift and will have time to recover because he will weigh in without lifting at the next qualifier in Qatar in December, Asanidze said. 

He will return to competition in February at the European Championships.

Eduard Ziaziulin from Belarus, competing as an Individual Neutral Athlete, made a respectable 201-230-431 despite failing with his last two attempts and goes straight into the top 10 in the rankings.

There was glory and pain for 19-year-old Ali Rubaiawi, who also made the top 10 from the B Group.

After Qasim Hasan had won Iraq’s first World Championships gold medal in any Olympic sport in the 96kg snatch last Wednesday (September 6), Rubaiawi became the first Iraqi weightlifter to claim a junior world record.

He did it with the last lift of the snatch session on 198kg, and started well in clean and jerk on 221kg. 

But a few minutes later, Rubaiawi was on a stretcher, heading for hospital after suffering a painful quadriceps injury on his second attempt.

Despite the injury, Rubaiawi improved his best qualifying total by 30kg on 198-221-419 and moved into the top 10 in the Paris rankings.

Another B Group lifter to make a big gain was Lee Jaesang from South Korea. 

The 28-year-old missed his second clean and jerk but the last one at 241kg helped him to finish 175-241-416 and move within 2kg of top-10 team-mate Jo Seongbin in the long list.

The rankings are expected to be updated on the IWF website in the next few days.