Sofia 2024 Day 9. Lalayan wins gold. REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

Eight years have passed since Georgian legend Lasha Talakhadze won the European title at the age of 23 in Forde, Norway. Since then, he has given none of his opponents a chance of winning a World, European or Olympic gold medal.

Yalakhadze was set to do the same on the final day of the 2024 European Weightlifting Championships in Bucharest, even going for 210 on his first attempt, but withdrew at the last moment. The last man to win the European title before Talakhadze was another Georgian, Irakli Turmanidze, in 2015.

It is reported that Talakhadze has a minor injury and does not want to risk his participation in the Olympic Games. Finally, the Armenian super heavyweights were given the chance to win the European title.

Gor Minasyan had been Talakhadze's rival for years, but then he moved to Bahrain and Varazdat Lalayan became Lasha's main opponent in Europe. And Lalayan became the first Armenian super heavyweight to become European champion since Ashot Danielyan in 2000.

Lalayan wasn't at his best in the snatch and only managed 205 kg. He failed to lift 210 on his third attempt. This was good enough for first place, 10 kg ahead of Eduard Ziaziulin (Individual Neutral Athlete) and 15 kg ahead of his team-mate Simon Martirosyan. But Lalayan was good enough in the clean and jerk.

Armenia's Simon Martirosyan took the silver medal. REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA
Armenia's Simon Martirosyan took the silver medal. REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

He needed only two attempts and cleared 250 kg to win the title with a total of 455 kg. Martirosyan finished with 247 kg in the clean and jerk and 437 kg in the total to take silver. He also tried to repeat his personal best of 255 kg from the World Championships in 2023, but failed this time. Ziazilin finished third with 436 kg in the total. 

In the women's +87 kg Emily Campbell won Great Britain's only gold medal in Sofia, but she cannot be satisfied with her performance. Campbell was far from her personal best in Sofia as she only managed 263 kg in the total and finished second after the snatch with 112 kg, 5 kg behind Georgia's Anastasiia Hotfrid. 

The strong clean and jerk (151 kg) helped Campbell to the top of the podium in the total, while Hotfrid remained in second place with 257 kg. Turkey's Fatmagul Cevik was third in all events.

Britain's Emily Campbell at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES
Britain's Emily Campbell at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

The best result of the day, however, was achieved by Mary Theisen-Lappen of the USA, who did not compete for a medal. The World runner-up made 116 kg in the snatch, 155 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 371. Neither Theisen-Lappen nor Campbell improved their positions in the Olympic rankings, but they can feel pretty safe as the Brit is fourth and the American sixth. 

Hotfrid improved her position and is now the last of the top 12, which will allow her to compete at Paris 2024, but everything can change in the next qualifying tournaments. 

Armenia topped the medals table ahead of Bulgaria and Italy. They had a total of 11 gold, 7 silver and 8 bronze medals. Bulgaria also had 11 gold medals, but only 4 silver and 4 bronze.