Sohrab Moradi after posting his B Group total at the Asian Championships ©Brian Oliver

One of Iran’s greatest weightlifters is hoping to put his injury nightmares behind him after beginning his attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the age of 34.

On a day when Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan had their first winners of the week at the Asian Championships here, Sohrab Moradi started in the 102 kilograms B Group with a 362kg total that will put him outside the top 25 in the ranking list.

At the top is Nurgissa Adiletuly, Kazakhstan’s first winner of the week, and the only man to have totalled 400kg in qualifying so far.

Rio 2016 champion Moradi has to move into the top 10 to earn a place in Paris, where he will lift one month before his 36th birthday if he makes it.

This was his first competition in more than two years after serious back and shoulder injuries wrecked his chances of qualifying for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

He was so dominant before then that he still holds the total world record of 416kg at 96kg and all three in the old 94kg class that was dropped in 2018.

Moradi is going "step by step" and believes he can find the improvement he needs, as do his coaches and his federation. 

Sajjad Anoushiravani, Olympic silver medallist and President of the Iran Weightlifting Federation said: "I guarantee you, Sohrab will be in Paris."

Nurgissa Adiletuly and Bekdoolot Rasulbekov show off their hats at the Asian Championships ©Brian Oliver
Nurgissa Adiletuly and Bekdoolot Rasulbekov show off their hats at the Asian Championships ©Brian Oliver

Coach Vahid Rabiei explained that Moradi had undergone shoulder labrum surgery for a second time 10 months ago, and had been in training since he recovered.

"He is better now, the doctors are happy and we all want to help him," said Rabiei.

Moradi made his first two snatches and his first clean and jerk, and retired on 162-200-362 after missing his fifth lift at 210kg.

The Olympic and world champions Meso Hassona from Qatar and Lesman Parades from Bahrain both withdrew from the A Group after weighing in and will wait for full fitness before trying to match or better Adiletuly’s 400kg.

Despite the presence of Olympic and world champions and world record holders in the entries, 22-year-old Adiletuly was not overawed.

"I knew about Meso, Lesman and the others, I knew it would be a tough job competing here so I made sure I was fully ready," he said.

"My coaches told me that if I made six good lifts and a total of 400kg I would win, so all I have been thinking about in training is ‘six lifts, six lifts’.

"The support of my family and the Kazakhstan nation really helped me to lift the bar."

Kazakhstan's team celebrate following a successful Asian Championships in Jinju ©Brian Oliver
Kazakhstan's team celebrate following a successful Asian Championships in Jinju ©Brian Oliver

It all worked out because Adiletuly, who shouted "Kazakhstan!" before each attempt, made all six, never looked like missing and hit the target on 181-219-400.

Two Koreans were on the podium alongside Adiletuly on total.

Jin Yunseong failed with his final attempt at 221kg and finished second on 180-218-398, just ahead of team-mate Jang Yeonhak, who won snatch gold and made 182-210-392.

Bekdoolot Rasulbekov from Kyrgyzstan won bronze in clean and jerk on 217kg and Chen Po-Jen of Chinese Taipei was a snatch bronze medallist on 181kg.

Only Adiletuly, Jin and Bahrain's Lesman Paredes have posted bigger totals in Paris qualifying than the top two at 89kg, so plenty of movement in the rankings is expected over the coming months.

Another Rio 2016 winner, the 105kg champion Ruslan Nurudinov from Uzbekistan, was originally entered at 102kg but lifted instead at 109kg, where he made six from six to win.

Nurudinov had to finish off with 228kg to claim gold and, cheered on by a small but noisy group of fans, he did it, finishing 177-228-405.

It was another good session for Kazakhstan, whose two athletes finished second and third.

Artyom Antropov had one failure in making 172-229-399 and Andas Samarkanov took bronze on 169-221-390.

The snatch winner Ali Ammar Yusur from Iraq was fourth on 178-211-389 and Mehdi Karami from Iran, third in snatch, was fifth on total on 384kg.