Incheon Asian Games 2014

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September 21st 2014
Published: October 29th 2014
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So, the Asian Games came to Incheon. We knew that it was happening for a while, but there was a complete lack of information online in English. When the timetable for the events came out, we looked to see what was on, that was also a mess, as it wasn't set out very logically. We tried to figure out how to buy tickets, haha not a chance! There was no ticketing option in English, and since we don't have legit ID numbers on our alien cards, (foreigners have either more or less digits, so a lot of websites don't recognise them) we couldn't order tickets online. A friend tried to help us out, by ringing the event organisers. That just made her angry as they never answered the phone, so she rang the Incheon city government, who were no help either. Nobody thought outside of the box, and thought foreigners would actually like to buy tickets. I hope Korea gets its act together before it holds the Winter Olympics in 2018.

Rant over, now onto the Games! Mel had a lot more patience with the website than me, and she found an event that fitted our time frame, and had a North Korea participant competing too. Women's weightlifting! I've never really seen any weightlifting events before, and was game to see anything, so it would be an experience if nothing else. North Korea has its own cheering squad, that it sends along to support its athletes, but Kim Jong-eun had stopped them from coming to Incheon. Apparently, they are a spectacle in their own right to see. It felt like it took forever to get to the venue, well it did take over two hours. I had to get the bus to Suwon station and then ride four subway lines! Finally we reached the end of the Incheon Line 1 (not to get confused with the regular Line 1, that also goes to Incheon). After riding the subway for so long, it felt like we had reached the end of the world, and the subway confirmed this feeling. We were the only people left on the subway, and therefore the only ones to get off at the last station. We exited the turnstiles and saw signs for the weightlifting venue. That was reassuring.

We came out of the station and found ourselves pretty much in a field. There was nothing about! I know they say that the new cities in Incheon aren't finished, and they really aren't joking. We walked for about fifteen minutes, not really knowing where we were going, but just followed the signs. Yeah, this area really isn't finished as we were walking on the road in places, as they hadn't got round to building the pavement. We finally arrived at the venue, it looked a bit like a tin shed. We bought our tickets, it was 10,000 won per person, and the ticket allowed you to come and go all day. They either stamp your ticket or your hand, the first time you leave the venue. We were starving, so we went to the kiosk next to the entrance to buy some food, we got this pre-cooked microwaveable chicken thing. It was a bit pricey at 15,000 won and after its 90 second nuking in the microwave, still pretty cold, but it filled a gap, and was a changing from cup noodles.

The women's weightlifting event didn't start until a bit later, so we caught the end of the men's event. There were a quite a few people inside, more than I had imagined would be. We found some seats, where we had a good view of what was going on, on the platform below. The walls were decorated with the cute mascots of the Asian Games, I love how Korea always makes these really cute mascots. I love that Asia loves cute and does it so well at any opportunity. There also flags of all the competing nations, hanging form the walls. They looked cool, however Taiwan didn't have its real flag, also because of politics (urgh!), they were referred to as Chinese Taipei.

It took us a while to figure out what was going on, and we didn't really get it until it was the women's event. I think the men's event was just a heat. There were some men sitting near us in the audience, who were there to cheer on one of the Japanese competitors. When he came out on to the stage, they got their flags out and started cheering. It was nice to see people (maybe they were family), who had a personal connection to the athletes here to cheer them on. Also the organisers had introduced some rules about the size of flags that the supporters could have. Seems a bit extreme and like they are acting like killjoys.

We had put our heads together during the interval between the men's event and the women's event and worked out what was going on. There were two different lifts that the athletes must do, the snatch and the clean and jerk. I love the names, one can attach so much innuendo to them. 😉 The competitors always do the snatch first, this is the one where they have to move the barbell all the way from the ground to over their heads in one movement. Because of this the weight that they lift is lower than for the clean and jerk. The clean and jerk is comprised of two moves, the clean part is lifting the weights to the shoulders (I'm sure there is a much more technical term for this), and the jerk part is lifting the barbell above their head until their arms are straight and the barbell is stationary. The total weight of the two lifts are added together in order to determine the winner. Also we were watching the 53kg category, the competitor's body weight had to be under this amount.

The competitors came out, lined up and were introduced to the audience, as were the judges. The two Koreas may still technically be at war, but the most applause from the audience went to the North Korean competitor. After they were all introduced, they all headed back to the waiting room. The competitors all came out in turn, to partake in the snatch. We were a bit confused as the board would flash up with which athlete was coming next, but this often changed as they would put in for the same size weights. The North Korean weightlifter came out to a load of cheers. The cutest thing ever happened at this point. There were a group of South Koreans sitting near us, who all stood up with banners and were chanting and cheering for her. They were wearing t-shirts with a picture of a unified Korean peninsula on it. Honestly, it was the nicest thing to see. This country/countries have been divided for over 60 years, and have grown further and further apart in so many different ways, that it was so nice to see that they still look out for each other in some ways. I suppose at the end of the day it doesn't matter whether they are from the North or the South, the being Korean is all that matters.

The weightlifting was really interesting to watch. These women are awesome. The power that they have in their bodies is amazing. They are lifting two or three times their body weight. I was in complete awe of them. It is amazing the dedication that they put into their training so that they can perform. I wish I had a tenth of their discipline. The event lasted for about an hour and a half to two hours. It got really exciting at the end, and as part of the crowd, I was awed as saw two world records being smashed! In the clean and jerk, Zulfiya Chinshanlo from Kazakhstan broke the word record by lifting 132 kg. There were loads of other Kazakhstani athletes in the audience, who were cheering her on, and the atmosphere was amazing. Next up was Hsu Shu-ching from Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) she lifted the same weight as Zulfiya Chinshanlo, I think it was about 10 kg heavier than the previous world record. By lifting this Hsu Shu-ching broke the total world record for her weight class lifting a total of 233 kg. The atmosphere was electric.

Zulfiya Chinshanlo tried to break the clean and jerk record again by lifting a crazy amount, as this would also give her the gold medal and world record for the total weight, but it wasn't to be. Still an amazing attempt and the crowd were right behind her. We watched the awards ceremony. The officials and the athletes came out, and the flags of their respective countries (Taiwan/Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, and PR China) were lifted. We watched as they were given their medals and flowers. It was a great outing, I'm glad that we managed to make it to the games, despite the lack of information beforehand.

Additional photos below
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Now with a weightlifting stamp.

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