Nina Sterckx became Belgium's first ever junior world champion at the IWF Junior World Championships in Crete ©Tom Gogebuer

There were celebrations for the United States and Belgium on a dramatic second day of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Junior World Championships in Heraklion, Crete.

Hampton Morris went from despair to elation within 67 minutes in the men’s 61 kilograms category, recovering from a poor start to finish with a world record and a world title.

That was after Nina Sterckx had become Belgium's first ever junior world champion, continuing her "amazing trajectory from youth to junior" according to her coach Tom Goegebuer, President of the Belgian Weightlifting Federation.

Both Sterckx, 19, and Morris, 18, had already won youth world titles.

Morris’s victory was remarkable, as he had been close to an early exit after missing his first two snatch attempts at 116kg.

He dropped the first and the second was deemed a "no lift" because of a left arm press-out, a decision that stood after a challenge.

Morris took it all in his stride and made the third attempt at the same weight, but that left him down in sixth place, 10kg behind the leader from Turkey, Kaan Kahriman.

Italy’s Sergio Massidda, the favourite who was aiming for a third straight junior world title, was injured in attempting to overtake Kahriman on his final snatch and had to withdraw from the clean and jerk.

Morris is far more accomplished in this discipline and he made all three lifts at 150kg, 154kg and 160kg, taking the clean and jerk junior world record from the North Korean Kim Chung Guk to add to the two youth world records he already holds.

Nobody else could better 146kg and Morris finished clear with 116-160-276, the same total he made in winning the youth world title last year when he snatched 120kg.

Kahriman was second on 269kg and the Colombian Daniel Stiven was third.

The United States will be hoping for more medals tomorrow when Katie Estep and Meaghan Strey compete in the 59kg A Group.

Hampton Morris recovered from a poor start to win the men's 61 kilograms category with a world record and a world title ©USAW
Hampton Morris recovered from a poor start to win the men's 61 kilograms category with a world record and a world title ©USAW

Sterckx, 19, had personal bests in snatch, clean and jerk and total as she made 93-111-204, beating 200kg for the first time.

She failed with her final attempt at 114kg and finished a few kilograms short of the European junior records of 96-116-212 held by Kamila Konotop of Ukraine.

Konotop, now 21, set all three of those records when she beat Sterckx into second place in last year's IWF Junior World Championships.

Both Konotop and Sterckx finished fifth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where Sterckx dropped down to 49kg to ensure qualification.

Having moved back up to her preferred weight, she once more had a Ukrainian as her closest challenger, this time the rapid improver Svitlana Samuliak.

While Sterckx has made steady progress, improving her best total by 22kg in three and a half years, Samuliak improved by that much in eight months last year, from 179kg at the European Championships in April to 201kg at the senior IWF World Championships in December, in which she finished third.

Samuliak could not match that total in Crete and finished 12kg behind Sterckx on 89-103-192.

Uzbekistan’s Jamila Panfila was third on 86-100-186.

Goegebuer, a triple Olympian who has coached Sterckx throughout her career, said: "Nina needed a break after the Olympics but started very motivated in the new Olympic cycle.

"We are very happy that the first comeback is with a world title, the first one for Belgium in world juniors.

"Nina started training in my last active years as an athlete and even trained many times in my house.

"It is pretty unique and very satisfying to have seen her amazing trajectory from youth to junior, to see her grow to a successor that does even better."