The DPRK witnessed award-winning performances from two talented young athletes at the 2015 World Youth Weightlifting Championship. The recent victories continue a long line of commendation for Korean wrestlers and athletes at the world level.
16-year old DPRK weightlifter Pak Jong Ju bagged three gold medals at the competition, which was held in Lima, Peru from 6 April – 12 April, 2015. Born in Sinuiju, Pak has trained hard and worked with his dad on the fundamentals of wrestling at local recreational centers almost all his life. Pak has been to many national competitions throughout his life, but was finally able to take part in the WYWC earlier this year. He did not disappoint. “It’s always been my dream to win big,” Pak says, sipping from a drink of water. “I’ve always wanted to visit South America and see Lima for myself, as well as bring home gold for my family and friends back at home. I did this for my mom and for my brother, who is also a weightlifter himself! Hopefully he can come next year.”
Pak performed well in receiving his three gold medals. He lifted 124 kg in snatch, and topped 156 kg in jerk (twice) at the men’s 62-kg category events. Both were bests in the category.
Another weightlifter, 14-year old Ri Song Gum of Kaesong, won four bronze medals at the women’s 48-kg category events. It was the most bronze medals won at a single event in over seven years, as well as the second most medals collected in WYWC history for any young woman. When asked by local reporters about her colossal achievement, Ri said “I’m happy, but exhausted. Just two years ago I figured I’d be clapping for someone else when they came home. Then I applied in February, and here I am. But to win like this is always going to be a memory for me and my family. I’m happy to win for my country and home.”
Children ages 13 – 17 may participate in the annual world competition. The competition ended with many children from all over the world walking home with prizes and awards. Mr. José Quiñones, the World Youth Wrestling Federation President, said that he was delighted with the outcome of the competitions and expected nothing less than success from the youth athletes. He described the participants as being “full of energy” and “proud” of their accomplishments. Mr. Quiñones concluded that next year’s competition, to be held again in April, is “already on [his] mind, and [he is] eagerly awaiting the turnout from across the entire globe.”
The DPRK has proudly produced several world champions in the sport of wrestling at the International Olympics, youth wrestling competitions, and regional face-offs. The country won six medals, four gold, at wrestling matches in the 2012 International Olympics, held in London.