China's Jiang Huihua, who has never finished outside the top two of any competition, won the gold medal in a high-quality 49kg event at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Jinju ©AWF

China's Jiang Huihua just failed with a world record attempt and Thailand won its first continental title in six years on day one of the Asian Weightlifting Championships here.

It was a good day all round for both nations, and also for Vietnam, despite bomb outs for its first two athletes.

This is a qualifier for the Olympic Games and if anybody deserves a place at Paris 2024 it is Jiang, winner of three world titles and who has never finished outside the first two in any competition in a career that began in 2013.

She has never lifted at the Olympic Games, though.

In a very high-quality women’s 49 kilograms session Jiang made her first five lifts to improve her number one position in the rankings by a kilogram, but failed with a final attempt at 120kg that would have given her world records in clean and jerk and total.

For the first time at this weight the top four finishers, from China and Thailand, all made totals of 200kg or more.

That number might have been five - the same as the number of world champions in a formidable line-up - but for Mirabai Chanu declining her final two attempts.

The Olympic silver medallist from India spent many weeks recovering from back and shoulder injuries and did not want to risk another setback after making a total of 194kg.

Chanu, 28, already has a 200kg total from the first Olympic qualifier, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Colombia last December, where Jiang was also the winner.

A total of five world champions competed in the 49kg event in Jinju ©AWF
A total of five world champions competed in the 49kg event in Jinju ©AWF

Jiang made 94-113-207 - her eighth straight total of 200kg-plus - ahead of her team-mate and Olympic champion Hou Zhihui on 93-111-204.

Hou improved on her World Championships performance by six kilograms.

Thailand’s Thanyathon Sukcharoen, the 45kg world champion, was third in the snatch and made six from six for 90-110-200 but was edged out of third place on total because her team-mate Surodchana Khambao got to 200kg before her.

Although she made only three good lifts, Khambao also finished on 90-110-200.

The Japanese lifter Rira Suzuki missed her first attempt then made the next five to finish fifth from the B Group and move into the Paris top 10 with 83-111-194.

Asked about the quality of the competition and her Olympic chances, Jiang said afterwards: "Yes, it's rare to see so many lifters over 200 in total at this category in all my years of competition, which proves that everyone is improving now.

"It is true that the last two Olympics I missed the opportunity. This time I will hold on to it.

"I hope I could go to Paris, which will prove myself an excellent athlete and leave no regrets in my sports career.

"My training before the Asian Championships was quite good, especially snatch, which helps improve my confidence and the feeling of strength. 

"Snatch was pretty much what I expected, but it was a pity that the 120 clean and jerk failed. 

"The clean was quite light, but the jerk was weak because I got a bit dizzy."

Teenager Do Tu Tung gave Vietnam something to celebrate with victory in the men's 55kg after a mixed opening day at the Asian Weightlifting Championships ©AWF
Teenager Do Tu Tung gave Vietnam something to celebrate with victory in the men's 55kg after a mixed opening day at the Asian Weightlifting Championships ©AWF

Earlier, Thailand won its first Asian Championships title since Sukcharoen claimed the old 48kg gold, under her previous forename Thunya, in 2017.

Siriwimon Pramongkhol made 77-100-177 to take the women’s 45kg, the opening event of the Championships.

Pramongkhol has also changed her forename: as Chayuttra she was one of the nine Thai lifters disqualified for doping at the 2018 IWF World Championships, where her winning total at 49kg was 209kg, nearly 30kg higher than today.

Thailand’s programme of reforms is off to a good start in Olympic qualifying and there is also progress off the platform.

Rose Jean Ramos from the Philippines was well back in second place on 73-88-161, and the Indonesian Siti Hariroh was third on 71-88-159.

Vietnam, who prepared with a training camp in China, came within one lift of a hat-trick of bomb outs before a recovery gave them a 1-2 finish in the men’s 55kg.

The first two Vietnamese lifters of the day both failed with all three snatch attempts, last year’s winner Khong My Phuong in the women’s 45kg and Nguyen Hoai Huong in the 49kg B Group.

Do Tu Tung then failed with his first two snatch attempts but made his third, then all three clean and jerks for 116-147-263.

That was a career-best for Do, twice Asian junior champion and still young enough to lift in the juniors at 19.

His team-mate Ngo Son Dinh was second on 117-143-260 and snatch winner Arli Chontey of Kazakhstan edged out Saudi Arabia’s Mansour Al Saleem for third place on 117-141-258. Al Mansour was third in the snatch, where Do was out of the medals, and also took bronze in clean and jerk but was fourth on total.