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Rio dream a reality for Ribouem

14 August 2016

WEIGHTLIFTING: Just a few months ago the Rio 2016 Olympic Games seemed a long shot for 94kg weightlifter Simplice Ribouem.

Battling to get over malaria the Cameroon-born Aussie seemed to have little chance to even qualify, let alone compete, at his debut Olympic Games.

However, Ribouem was not going to let anything, including a niggling knee injury that forced him to be below his best, stand in his way of his Olympic dream being realised on Saturday.

The 33-year-old equalled his personal best in the snatch with a total of 155 kilograms before he lifted 185kg in the clean and jerk.

“I was happy after the snatch but the clean and jerk was surprising because of my knees,” Ribouem said.

“I need a lot of time to warm up and I was jumping up the weights so quickly. The clean was easy but I was let down by my knees with the jerk.”

Ribouem started out his competition with a lift of 145kg before successfully lifting 150kg. He let out a loud roar as he confidently held his equal PB weight of 155kg above his head and the crowd responded with an equally rapturous applause.

That result saw him sit in equal third of Group B after the snatch competition.

Ribouem lifted 185kg in his opening clean and jerk before his knee troubled him as he was unsuccessful at his second and third attempts at 191kg. His combined total of 340kg placed him fifth in Group B.

“My knee was very, very painful on the last couple of lifts but I knew I had to give it a go again even though the doctor told me my knee was bad.

“I was hoping to do a massive weight and follow the Korean guy (who lifted 202kg in the clean and jerk) as I wanted to catch him so I was a little bit disappointed.

“My coach and the other athletes were giving me encouragement to go out there.”

Having stayed in Australia following the 2006 Commonwealth Games, he won gold four years later in Delhi before winning silver at the 2014 Glasgow Games.

He is now looking ahead to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on what is now his home soil.

“I’m very proud to lift for Australia and give back to the country that gave me this opportunity.

“(At the 2018 Commonwealth Games) I have to represent my country and not let them down. I have to treat my knee properly and get back to a good level at training.”

His final position will known following Group A, where the medals will be decided, but he cannot finish any lower than 14th.

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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