Park Hye-jung (20-Goyang City Hall) surpassed her idol Jang Jang-ran at her second World Championships.
Park Hye-jung made history by winning three gold medals in the women’s lightest weight category at the World Weightlifting Championships. Park took first place in the women’s 87 kg and above category at the 2023 World Weightlifting Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday (Feb. 17) with a lift of 124 kg, a snatch of 165 kg and a total of 289 kg. Unlike the Olympics and Asian Games, the World Weightlifting Championships awarded medals in the lifts, snatch, and total. Park swept all three categories.
It’s been two years since South Korean weightlifter Son Young-hee (30, Busan City Sports Association) won the women’s heavyweight title at the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2021. Back then, however, the “strongest” China was not in the field. In 2021, Sohn finished second in the vault and won two gold medals in the all-around. However, Park made history by becoming the first Korean to take first place in the all-around, vault and beam at an event that featured reigning Tokyo Olympic champion Li Wenyuan (CHN), who holds the world records in all three categories (148 kg in the vault, 187 kg in the beam and 335 kg in the total).
It’s an accomplishment that even Rosaran couldn’t match. Jang Jang-ran, the current Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has been crowned world champion four times in her career (Doha, Qatar, 2005; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2006; Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2007; and Goyang City, South Korea, 2009), but she has lost the top spot in the lift to other athletes.
On this day, Park made 120 kilograms in the first phase of the lift. In the second period, she lifted 124 kilograms to secure second place. Park requested 131 kilograms in the third and final period. However, Lee Won-won, who was the favorite to win, failed to lift 130 kg in the first and second periods and withdrew from the competition without standing on the platform. Park Hye-jung, who had booked her first World Championship gold medal with Lee’s withdrawal, did not attempt 131kg. Her teammate, Son Young-hee, finished second on vault with 122 kilograms.
In the next competition, Park attempted 158 kilograms in the first period, but failed. However, after lifting 158 kilograms in the second period, Park gained momentum and lifted 165 kilograms in the third period. She won another gold medal after defeating Marie Tyson-Raffen (USA), who stayed at 160 kilograms. Park finished with a total of 289 kilograms, 12 kilograms ahead of Tyson-Raffen at 277 kilograms, and easily added another gold medal to complete the trifecta. Son Young-hee finished second in the vault with 122 kilograms, but after failing her first attempt at 157 kilograms, she abandoned her second and third attempts and did not record a total.
It was a video of Jang Jang-ran’s 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal performance that changed the life of Park Hye-jung, an ordinary elementary school student. Impressed, Park went to the Ansan Sports Association with her parents’ permission and said, “I want to do weightlifting.” Seeing her potential, the Ansan Sports Association helped her transfer to the prestigious Ansan Seonbujoong Weightlifting Center. With an ideal physique of 1.75-117 kilograms, power and quickness, Park was a natural weightlifter. With a quirky sense of humor and a fierce competitive spirit, Park improved her skills day by day.
She broke the Korean middle school record (totaling 259 kilograms) and the junior record (290 kilograms), establishing herself as one of the leaders of the “post-Joseulan” generation. She was also unbeatable on the world junior stage. Park won the World Junior Championships in Heraklion, Greece, in May last year (120kg in the vault, 161kg on the beam, 281kg total) and the Asian Junior Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in July (115kg in the vault, 155kg on the beam, 270kg total). Unable to compete at the senior level due to age restrictions, Park made her debut in April of last year at her first senior event, the weightlifting trials for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, where she won the title.
But the bar was high. In 2022, her first appearance at the World Championships, she finished eighth with a total of 274 kg (119 kg lifted and 155 kg snatch). After lifting a total of 290 kilograms as a high school sophomore, Park set a goal of 300 kilograms for her senior year. However, his best total last year as a high school junior was a regressed 285 kilograms. The pressure weighed him down. It led to a slump.안전놀이터
But Park refused to let her head drop. Unemployed this year, Park broke her personal best in the women’s 87kg and above category at the 2023 Jinju Asian Weightlifting Championships in May with a lift of 127kg, a snatch of 168kg and a total of 295kg. Despite falling short of Lee Won-won’s total of 315 kilograms (140 kilograms in the lift and 175 kilograms in the snatch), Park proved her international competitiveness by placing second in the total, second in the lift, and third in the snatch. Since 2020, only two women have lifted a total of 295 kilograms or more, Lee Won-won and Park Hye-jung.
In her second appearance at the World Championships, Park was crowned champion, beating out Lee Won-won. She made history and ushered in an era all her own. Park will also compete at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Despite the home advantage of Li Wenyuan, she plans to take on the challenge with the pride of a world champion.