LONDON - Rim Jong Sim extended North Korea's surprise winning streak in weightlifting Wednesday, clinching gold in the women's 69-kilogram class after lifting nearly 30 kilograms more than she has done in previous competitions.
The 19-year-old survived a challenge from silver medallist Roxana Cocos to win North Korea's third weightlifting gold in London with a total weight of 261 kilograms.
That's a stunning 36-kilo improvement on the 225 kilograms she lifted when winning bronze at the junior world championships last year and 29 kilos more than her 232-kilo total at the Asian Games in 2010.
Like North Korea's two previous gold medal-winning weightlifters in London, she said the secret to her success was the "embrace" of the reclusive communist nation's leader, Kim Jong Un.
"I thought that it was my duty as an athlete of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to give joy to our supreme leader, general Kim Jong Un," Rim said. "And at that moment that was my motivation. To exert extra power to please the general."
"The only thing that I can think of right now is to run to our dear leader with my gold medal in hand," she added.
Rim was level with two other lifters who took 115 kilograms in the snatch, but jumped ahead of the field in the clean and jerk by taking 142-kilograms in her first attempt.
Cocos challenged for first place in her final attempt but failed to clear 146 kilograms. Having already secured the gold, Rim extended her advantage by taking that same weight in her last lift.
Maryna Shkermankova of Belarus beat countrywoman Dzina Sazanavets to grab the bronze.
Only China has done better than North Korea in the weightlifting competition in London. Om Yun Chol and Kim Un Guk won gold medals for North Korea in the men's two lowest weight categories, while Ryang Chun Hwa won bronze in the women's 48-kilogram class.
Facing repeated questions about the reasons behind North Korea's success, Rim came back to the same mantra.
"Even when the training was really tough I tried to remind myself of our dear leader Kim Jong Un and I did my best in trying to train harder," she said through an interpreter. "I believe that is what made it possible for me to obtain this result."
It's turning into a familiar refrain at the weightlifting venue where North Koreans Om and Kim also praised the Kim Jong Un and his late father Kim Jong Il following their gold medals in the men's 56 and 62.
Rim even found a poetic way to make Kim Jong Un the answer to a question about where the North Koreans had their training camp.
"Where I trained is the embrace of our dear leader," she said. "That's where we could blossom. With whatever talent we had, we could blossom in his embrace."