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US weightlifter Kendrick Farris faces field of champions in men’s 85kg

Posted Aug 02, 2012

By KARL RITTER, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Kendrick Farris will be the first American to test his strength on the weightlifting platform in London when he goes up against a lineup of Olympic and world champions in the 85-kilogram category.

Farris will be looking to improve on his 362-kilogram total four years ago in Beijing, where he placed eighth. But the medals are likely out of reach for the 26-year-old from Shreveport, La., who will compete in the "B'' session with lower-ranked lifters.

Leading the top medal contenders lifting in the "A'' group later Friday is China's Lu Yong, the defending Olympic champion.

Lu, 26, hasn't come near his gold-medal winning total of 394 kilograms in recent years, lifting a more modest 375 kilograms to win this year's Chinese national championship. But he's an experienced lifter who knows how to handle the pressure of big-stage competition.

His top challengers include 2008 silver medalist and world record holder Andrei Rybakou of Belarus and a pair of Iranians: 2011 world champion Kianoush Rostami and Asian champion Sourab Moradi.

Rostami's total of 399 kilograms at the team trials in Iran was 5 kilos above Rybakou's world record, which Lu equaled in 2008. But it was Mouradi who came out stronger when he defeated Rostami at the Asian championships this year.

Rybakou's form is uncertain. The snatch and total world record holder took a break from major competitions following the Beijing Olympics and only placed seventh in his comeback at the 2011 world championships.

Poland's Adrian Zielinski, the 2010 world champion, and Russian strongman Apti Aukhadov cannot be discounted in what promises to be a thrilling battle for the medals.

In the women's competition Friday, the 75-kilogram class looks set to become a three-way struggle between Russians Nadezda Evstyukhina and Natalya Zabolotnaya and their former team mate Svetlana Podobedova, now competing for Kazakhstan.

Spain's Lidia Valentin is an outsider in the group, which offers the best chances for Europe to win gold in a competition dominated by Asia. The nine gold medals awarded so far in weightlfting have been divided between China (4), North Korea (3) and Kazakhstan (2).

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