Canadian weightlifter settles for silver on day of drama at Commonwealth Games
Boady Santavy, 20, faces charges back home in the wake of a hit-and-run that left a man seriously injured
On a day of weightlifting high drama, Canadian Boady Santavy put on a record-breaking performance at the Commonwealth Games. But defending champion Steven Kari of Papua New Guinea went one better.
The 20-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., had to settle for silver Sunday in the men's 94-kilogram division while Kari wept for joy atop the medal podium after snatching gold from the Canadian with a do-or-die clean-and-jerk lift of 216 kilograms. India's Vikas Thakur took bronze.
"He's strong. But he's not going to take my gold medal away from me," the 24-year-old Kari, pounding his heart, said of Santavy after beating him by one kilogram.
There is real-life drama awaiting Santavy back home in the wake of a hit-and-run that left a man seriously injured. Santavy was charged with failing to remain at the scene of the collision after turning himself in, according to a Sarnia police statement dated March 19. He was released on a promise to appear in court.
Santavy asked, through a Canadian team official, that questions be restricted to his competition. But clearly his legal situation has taken a toll.
"It was definitely the hardest time I've had in my life training," he said after receiving his medal. "Coming here, I had
a lot of pressure. There was just a lot on my mind but I got through it the best I could."
Dalas Santavy, his father and coach, sees a future Olympic champion in his son amidst the turmoil.
"Under the circumstances he had to have his head on straight today," he said. "Everything else will hopefully, in time, work itself out. It's a tragic situation but we go from there."
Police say a 29-year-old man was left in serious condition in hospital as a result of the March 18 incident in Sarnia. The family of Nicolas Emmerson Andali said he suffered a broken shoulder blade, clavicle, lacerated spleen, brain bleed and other superficial wounds, questioning on social media about the man charged in the incident representing his country.
Commonwealth Games Canada president Rick Powers said Santavy is eligible to compete because he has not been convicted of a crime. Santavy was also legally cleared to travel.
In the final competition of the day, defending champion Marie-Eve Beauchemin-Nadeau of Montreal collected silver behind England's Emily Godley in the women's 75-kilogram class.
The 29-year-old Beauchemin-Nadeau, who also won silver eight years ago in India, made for an exciting finale when she hoisted 126 kilograms on her second attempt in the clean-and-jerk to pull ahead. But Godley matched her lift to win by one kilogram.
"She did a great job," said Beauchemin-Nadeau, a doctor by trade. "She totally deserves her medal."
In a sport that is full of attitude and ego, Santavy seemed destined to strut his way to gold.
He made his first five lifts Sunday, cutting an imperious figure at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre stage. He hoisted a games-record 168 kilograms in the snatch and then lifted 201 in the clean and jerk, deliberately pausing to look left and right at the crowd as he held what amounted to the weight of pro wrestler Kong Kong Bundy over his head.
His personal-best 369-kilogram total seemed unbeatable, even if he failed at 206 kilograms — ending the attempt before the bar reached his knees. It would have tied his personal clean-and-jerk best, achieved in training.
"My legs didn't feel as strong as they normally are," he said of the final attempt.
Kari, who had lifted 154 in the snatch and 202 in the clean and jerk to lie 13 kilograms in arrears, seemed destined to drop to silver. But he jacked up the weight to 216 kilograms and rolled the dice in weightlifting's equivalent of final Jeopardy.
Kari made the lift — breaking both the games and Commonwealth clean-and-jerk records — to tie a games-record total of 370 kilograms and trigger wild celebration that saw him dance around the stage, hoist his coach in the air and hurl his protective belt into the crowd.
Backstage, a shocked Santavy threw a mini-tantrum captured on the in-house video as his father tried to calm him.
Santavy was the last of the 14 competitors to lift, some 68 minutes into the competition. While he waited to enter at 160
kilograms, the snatch part of the event began at 117 kilograms.
Santavy nailed 160 kilos on his first attempt, giving the crowd a defiant once-over before exiting stage left. Santavy then made 161 with officials moving up the weight by just one kilo after apparent confusion over whether his coaches had requested the next weight in time.
It didn't faze Santavy who then hoisted 168 kilograms to erase the games record of 167 set in 2002 by Australian Aleksan Karapetyn.
The successful lift gave the Canadian a nine-kilogram lead over Thakur going into the clean-and-jerk portion. Samoa's Siaosi Leuo was third at 156 and Kari fourth at 154.
The clean-and-jerk started at 145 kilograms, with Santavy coming in and making his first attempt at 196. He then made 201 — tying his personal best in competition — pounding his chest and pumping his fists in the air after dropping the weight.
"I was pretty certain 201 would have won," said Santavy. "But he pulled 216 out of nowhere. It was a strong lift. He deserves to win after a lift like that."
Santavy was tied for 22nd in the world in the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation rankings, the top-ranked athlete in the Commonwealth. He was sixth at the world championships last December in Anaheim where he lifted 366 kilograms (165, 201).
Welsh lifter Josh Parry needed help to leave the stage after a failed attempt at 160 kilograms. He received medical attention behind a green screen before exiting and did not return. He was shown later in the back, head in hands with a towel covering his face.
On the other end of the emotional spectrum, Scotland's Scott Wilson did a backflip on stage after lifting 171 kilograms in the clean-and-jerk. Cameroon's Petit David Minkoumba followed that with a successful lift, somersault and backflip.
Music by Metallica, Kiss, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More blared over the speakers during breaks in the action.
With no hometown hero to cheer for — Australian Simplice Ribouem, a silver medallist four years ago, pulled out after aggravating a knee injury — the crowd showed every lifter the love.
Each competitor was warmly greeted with applause as he took the stage. But there was a hush when they approached the weight. Failed attempts were greeted by groans and then supportive applause.
Successful lifts were celebrated by everyone in the hall as bars weighing the equivalent of an NFL lineman thudded into the stage.
"Loaders, more weight please," intoned the MC, prompting five officials to invade the stage and add to the bar.
Some competitors like diminutive Forrester Osei, a British-based Ghanaian, worked the crowd like the lead singer of a rock band, asking for — and getting — applause on cue.
Earlier Andreanne Messier of La Presentation, Que., was fourth in the 69-kilogram class won by India's Punam Yadav. Messier, who posted three personal bests, finished at 211 kilograms (95 and 116).
Canada has now won a gold, three silver and a bronze in the weightlifting competition here.
Maude Charron of Rimouski, Que., had previously claimed gold in the 63-kilogram class while Tali Darsigny of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., took silver at 58 kilos and Rachel LeBlanc-Bazinet of St-Bruno-de-Montarville Que., earned bronze at 53 kilos.
Canadian 'lifters won four medals at the 2014 games (two gold, two bronze) in Glasgow.