Rosina Randafiarison won Madagascar its first global medal in any Olympic sport at the IWF World Championships ©IWF

There was a memorable moment on the opening day of the 2023 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships when Rosina Randafiarison gave Madagascar its first global medal not just in weightlifting but in any Olympic sport.

Randafiarison screamed and screamed, then leaped into the arms of her coach after making her final snatch attempt at 77 kilograms in the women’s 45kg, the first medal event in Riyadh.

That secured snatch silver and Randafiarison had more reason to scream when she was second in the clean and jerk despite failing with her final two attempts.

Randafiarison, 23, improved her career best by 14kg on 77-93-170 behind the clear winner Siriwimon Pramangkhol from Thailand, who declined her final lift and finished 78-101-179.

"It’s wonderful - we have never won a medal like this before, never in any sport," said Alex Randriamanarivo, President of the Madagascar Weightlifting Federation and general secretary of its National Olympic Committee.

Thailand took the title for a third straight time despite the fact that the reigning champion Thanyathon Sukcharoen failed to make a total.

Sukcharoen, a winner at 45kg in 2021 and 2022, was competing in the C Group at the Olympic weight of 49kg and made only a solitary snatch of 70kg.

She is joint second in the Olympic rankings alongside Mirabai Chanu from India. 

Siriwimon Pramangkhol of Thailand was a comfortable winner of the women's 45kg category in Riyadh ©IWF
Siriwimon Pramangkhol of Thailand was a comfortable winner of the women's 45kg category in Riyadh ©IWF

Like the Tokyo silver medallist Chanu, who withdrew after weighing in, Sukcharoen may be saving herself for the Asian Games which begin in Hangzhou in China on September 30.

Pramangkhol made five from five and bettered her winning total at the Asian Championships by 1kg.

Cansu Bektas, the European champion from Turkey, was third on 75-87-162, so the first medal ceremony here featured athletes from three different continents.

A Saudi Arabian athlete appropriately made the opening lift in Riyadh, where a number of other "firsts" and records will be made over the next two weeks.

This is the first time Saudi Arabia has hosted a weightlifting World Championships, at 14 days it is the longest to date, and it the first one at which all athletes hoping to compete at the next Olympic Games must take part, under the Paris 2024 qualifying rules.

It features the most athletes and the most International Technical Officials ever at 719 and 65 respectively, and the IWF Congress on September 12 is on course for a record attendance, with 153 nations due to attend.

"I hope we see one more record here too - for the most world records at a World Championships," said IWF President Mohammed Jalood.

Monerah Alrowitea opened the Championships with a good lift in the 49kg D Group. Alrowitea is the first of 10 Saudi females here, a record team size for a nation where there was no women’s weightlifting before 2019.

Rosina Randafiarison screamed with delight after her historic performance at the IWF World Championships ©IWF
Rosina Randafiarison screamed with delight after her historic performance at the IWF World Championships ©IWF

Another team with more World Championship athletes than ever before is Ireland, which had two in the opening session and has four more in action later this week - a sign of impressive growth

The Kenyan Janet Oduor was 2.45kg over the 45kg limit and was not only unable to lift, but is ineligible to qualify for Paris because she did not comply with the rules by weighing in.

The 49kg C Group featured one of the most remarkable women in weightlifting, 39-year-old Dika Toua from Papua New Guinea.

Toua was 16 when she became the first female ever to make a lift at the Olympic Games in 2000, and is hoping to qualify for a record sixth Olympics on a tripartite invitation.

Despite missing her final two attempts, Toua made a total of 161kg and will head to a training camp in Samoa before the Oceania Championships in November.

Her son Paul will be 17 in November and is nearly as old as two of Toua’s rivals in the C Group, from Poland and Venezuela.

Paul is not a weightlifter but Toua’s 13-year-old daughter Ani Geua Gavera is making her international debut in October in the Oceania Youth Championships in Samoa.

“I’m not pushing her, it’s her decision and her dad is doing the coaching,” Toua said, pointing at her husband Willie Tamasi, who is PNG’s head coach.

In May, Toua became President of her National Federation, a role that will keep her in the sport when she finally retires from competition.