By Brian Oliver at the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace in Almaty

Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin topped a spectacular day at the IWF World Championships ©Getty ImagesWhatever other sport was going on around the world today it cannot possibly have matched this for drama, excitement and breathtaking quality.

The world's most popular weightlifter rounded off a sensational evening of action by setting a third world record in three successive lifts - all by different men.

Ilya Ilyin, double Olympic champion and favourite not just of the home Kazakh supporters, but of many thousands more around the world, brought the crowd to their feet in a stunning finale to the men's 105 kilogram.

It would not have been possible to script a better finish for the fans who had paid $90 (£57/€72) a ticket - half a week's wages for many workers in Kazakhstan - and the worldwide television audience.

Tactical switches by the coaches of Ilyin, his good friend Ruslan Nurudinov of Uzbekistan, and David Bedzhanyan from Russia meant that the last four clean-and-jerk  lifts of the night would all be higher than the world record of 238kg.

Ilyin, having made four out of four, failed with his fifth lift, a world record attempt at 239kg.

Next up was Nurudinov, who made the lift.

With his tongue lolling, as it did every time he made a good lift, he nodded approval of his own effort while the partisan crowd cheered and applauded respectfully.

Ilya Ilyin set the arena alight this evening after lifting a world record 242kg in the clean-and-jerk to take overall victory in the men's 105kg ©IWF/TwitterIlya Ilyin set the arena alight this evening after lifting a world record 242kg in the clean-and-jerk to take overall victory in the men's 105kg ©IWF/Twitter

Bedzhayan, the man whose record had just been beaten, then won it back with 240kg.

He had lifted 225 on his first attempt, then failed at 236.

So he was up by 15kg from his last good lift, and he still did it.

Nurudinov's world record had lasted little more than a minute.

So did Bedzhayan's.

Ilyin, wearing a light blue uniform with black and gold trim, and his name printed on the back, marched purposefully forward.

The bar had gone up to 242kg, which would be enough for clean-and-jerk and overall victory.

He cleaned it quickly and easily, and as he raised his arms the whole crowd stood and roared - spectators, fellow athletes, VIPs, press and even some of the officials.

It was magnificent.

As if that was not enough for one night, we then had the bizarre sight of Ilyin taking a phone call while he was on the podium for the snatch medal ceremony.

The Sports Minister handed him the phone and Ilyin took the call, from the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Narzarbayev.

Ilya Ilyin set a world record and won gold medal in the men's 94kg at London 2012 ©Getty ImagesIlya Ilyin set a world record and won gold medal in the men's 94kg at London 2012
©Getty Images

To round off the entertainment Ilyin then revealed that he had put on weight, trained relentlessly and won his world title, in this most red-blooded of sports, as a vegetarian.

When he had won gold at London 2012 he spoke of the benefits of eating plenty of chicken and horsemeat, a favourite in Kazakhstan.

Now he said that he did not digest meat as easily as other food and that, despite the misgivings of his coaches, he had cut it out altogether several months ago.

"I feel lighter, freer, and I exercise more efficiently," he said.

"I base my diet on my feelings.

"It helps and it works."

As long as he takes in enough protein, he is fine without meat.

Although many Indian lifters are vegetarian, nobody among the officials and coaches in Almaty could recall a vegetarian ever winning a major title.

Ilyin, 26, has now won International Weightlifting Federation World Championship titles at three weights - 85kg, 94kg and now 105kg.

This was his first big competition at the heavier weight: his Olympic golds in 2008 and 2012 were both at 94kg.

His next target is a third Olympic gold, also at 105kg.

He was planning to celebrate with his close friends last night, and has arranged - in that phone call - a visit to President Nazarbayev on Independence Day, December 16.

As well as training hard he will continue his English lessons, and is planning visits to the United States and Britain.

He is already a millionaire, his picture is on billboards all over Kazakhstan, and he is on the way to becoming a global superstar.

Vegetarian food companies will love him.

With this 120kg snatch Ryu Un Hui of North Korea took the snatch gold medal in the women's 69kg ©IWF/FacebookWith this 120kg snatch Ryu Un Hui of North Korea took the snatch gold medal in the women's 69kg ©IWF/Facebook

In the preceding women's heavyweights - 75kg - North Korea strengthened their position at the top of the medals table, just as they had predicted.

Kim Un Ju won both the clean-and-jerk and the overall golds, while China could not manage any.

Kang Yue, China's big hope, was one of three lifters who finished on 126kg in the snatch but lost out to Russia's Nadezhda Evstiukhina on bodyweight, with Kim third.

Evstiukhina then faltered badly in the clean-and-jerk, missing her first two lifts.

"I wasn't aggressive enough, and I have some technical problems to sort out," she said after finishing on 153kg, four behind Kim.

"My personal medal does not matter to me, it is only important as part of the team effort," said Kim.

"I am so happy to bring home the medal for my people and my Great Leader."

The popular Kazakh Svetlana Podobedova was injured and watched from the sidelines.

The Olympic champion said, "The Koreans are very strong, they train hard – but I will be back next year to beat them."

North Korea look certain to finish on top of the medals table for the first time in any major Championship in any sport.

There are two more events tomorrow, the super-heavyweights for men and women.

China's hopes rest with Suping Meng in the women's event as they do not have anyone in the men's.

Their usual first choice, Loulou Zhou, did not travel to Kazakhstan, having competed at the Asian Games six weeks ago.

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