Tokyo Olympics: Kiwi weightlifter David Liti holds own against world's strongest men

Confronted by some of the world's strongest men, Kiwi weightlifter David Liti has not flinched, smashing national records to finish fifth at the Tokyo Olympics.

But immediately after his performance, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist described two overriding emotions.

"Now it's all done, I'm kind of homesick and want to go home," he told Sky Sport.

While most of the NZ lifting contingent has been consigned to the afternoon sessions at Tokyo International Forum - before Liti, only Laurel Hubbard had contested an evening session - the 'Big Bear' found himself rubbing shoulders with the big boppers in the +109kg division.

His promotion to Pool A gave him the best seat in the house for a weightlifting masterclass by Georgian defending champion Lasha Talakhadze, who shattered his own world records for snatch, clean & jerk and total.

And Liti's other emotion - a determination to defend his Commonwealth title at Birmingham next year.

He began his night with successive snatch lifts of 173kg and 178kg, but was red-lighted by judges, after raising 183kg above his head.

"That snatch, definitely a red light," he admitted. "I knew it was a red light, but I hoped at least on other judge might give me a white.

"It is what it is."

Moving on to clean & jerk, Liti succeeded with 229kg and 236kg, breaking his national record by 5kg and adding 11kg to his best total, but could not get underneath 241kg that would have given him fourth overall.

"There's been a lot of work go into this and I was nervous I was going to show it," he admitted. "I'm thankful that everything came together, but I'm sure next time will be a better performance."

Liti emerged as one of the most popular NZ athletes at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and was awarded the David Dixon Award for sportsmanship, after helping an injured rival onto the medal podium.

While many will take time to debrief from their Olympic performances at Tokyo, Liti has no intention of resting on those laurels.

"I'll be straight into Commonwealth Games preparation," he said. "My quarantine will be my chill time.

"I can't wait. I don't normally like to be predicting, but I would love to win back-to-back at Commonwealth Games."

His showing at Tokyo indicates that is no wild prediction.  

Coming Thursday...

New Zealand could not add to its medal tally on Wednesday, with both our cycling pursuit team and 470 sailors finishing fourth.

But today promises better things, with canoe star Lisa Carrington contesting the K1 500, where she took bronze at Rio 2016, and former world champion Tom Walsh competing in shotput, where he also took bronze five years ago.

Rio silver medallist Lydia Ko currently lies four shots behind the women's golf leaders, while 1500m bronze medallist Nick Willis will try to continue his outstanding Olympic record in the semi-finals. 


Men's shot put final - Jacko Gill & Tom Walsh 2:05pm NZ

Men's 1500m semis - Nick Willis 11pm NZ


Women's K1 500 semis & final - Caitlin Regal 12:58pm & 3:29pm NZ

Women's K1 500 semis & final - Lisa Carrington 1:19pm & 3:29pm NZ

Men's K2 1000 semis & final - Max Brown & Kurtis Imrie 1:26pm NZ


Men's omnium - Aaron Gate 6:30pm NZ

Men's sprint quarter-finals & 5-8 final  - Sam Webster 6:48pm NZ

Women's keirin quarter-finals, semis & finals - Ellesse Andrews 7:06pm NZ


Women's individual strokeplay, round 2 - Lydia Ko 11:41am NZ


Women's kate elimination, ranking rounds & medals - Alexandrea Anancan 1pm & 8pm NZ