Nurcan Taylan, Li Zhuo, and the inequalities of judging


The 48kg class at the 2004 Athens Olympics saw a duel between Nurcan Taylan of Turkey and Li Zhou of China. Before the competition Taylan was multiple European champion as well as world medalist. Li was multiple Asian champion as well as the world record holder in the snatch and clean and jerk.

These are the results as they were recorded, but as so often they don’t tell the full story.

Nurcan Taylan – 47.21 – 90/95/97.5 + 107.5/112.5x/112.5 = 210

Li Zhuo – 47.65 – 90/92.5/95x + 112.5/120x/120x = 205

In the snatch Li’s third attempt at 95kg saw a slight press out on her left arm and she was called 2:1 against, thus ending on 92.5kg. Taylan made three good lifts and finished with 97.5kg, a new WR. Li now needed to make up 7.5kg as she was heavier.

Both women made their clean and jerk openers and Taylan then increased to 112.5kg while the Chinese team waited. Taylan had a 2:1 in favor decision on her last attempt which showed a press out on her right arm – with more bend than Li’s failed snatch. Taylan now with a 210 total, Li attempted 120kg twice unsuccessfully to overtake her.

If Nurcan Taylan‘s last jerk had been judged equally to Li’s last snatch the Chinese team only had to attempt 115kg for the gold. Li Zhuo held the WR with 116.5kg.

The video below shows most lifts, with regards to the crucial press outs: Li’s at 2:35, Taylan’s at 4:50.

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