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Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin looks to defend Olympic weightlifting title at 94 kilograms

08/03/2012 05:42 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin is one of the best pound-for-pound weightlifters in the world, having never lost in international competition.

Ukrainian upstart Artem Ivanov just might change that during Saturday's 94-kilogram competition at the London Olympics.

Ivanov compiled a stunning 420 kilogram total at this year's Kazakhstan championships, a total that would have shattered the world record of 412 had it not been done at a domestic event. He's also likely to take the lead after the snatch portion of the event, thus putting pressure on Ilyin to best him in the clean and jerk.

But it's one thing to lift more than Ilyin at home.

It's quite another to outlift Ilyin on the sport's biggest stage.

Ilyin won his first world title in 2005 at just 17 years old, and he's just kept on winning. He captured gold in Beijing four years ago and is the defending world champion. His best total this year is just 405 though, leading some to believe Artem Ivanov can pass him in London.

And he's not even the only Ivanov with a shot at the gold medal.

Russia's Alexandr Ivanov won the 2010 world title — a competition Ilyin missed — by beating Artem Ivanov and others. Alexandr Ivanov fell to fourth at last year's worlds but posted a healthy 411 total at the Russian championships in May.

Beyond having perhaps the longest name of any athlete at the London Games, Iran's Saeid Mohammadpourkarkaragh could push for a podium finish. He's just 19, yet he was third at the 2011 worlds with a 402 total and is the current junior world champion.

Norayr Vardanyan will represent Armenia after moving there from the United States in 2010. It's tough to see Vardanyan lifting enough to contend for a medal, since his best international total of 361 is at least 40 kilograms shy of what'll be needed for a medal.

Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan won gold in the women's 75 kilogram event Friday, while Poland's Adrian Edward Zielinski won gold in men's 85 kilograms in a mild upset.

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