North Korea weightlifter Om Yun Chol may have faked his age

Janice Hong, Aug. 12, 2016, 11:48 a.m.


North Korean Olympic weightlifting champion Om Yun Chol may have falsified his age, a report said. Om, the 2012 Olympic champion in the men's 56kg who took silver at the ongoing Rio de Janeiro Games, is listed as 24, born on Nov.18, 1991.

However, The New York Times reported on Thursday that a book titled "Olympic Champions Who Bring Glory to the Motherland," published in Pyongyang in 2014, cites Om's birth year as 1990.

The newspaper said it could have been a simple mistake, but if he was indeed born in 1990, Om would have been one year too old to compete at the 2011 International Weightlifting Federation Junior World Championships.

And if Om hadn't competed in that junior event, he wouldn't have qualified for the London Olympics. If Om is confirmed to have fabricated his age, he may face sanctions, including possible disqualification from the London Olympics.

The IWF mandates that any athlete competing in an Olympic Games must have competed in two international events within 18 months prior to that Olympics. Such events include world championships and world junior championships.

Om, after the 2011 junior event, entered the senior world championships later that same year. The New York Times wrote, "The age discrepancy appears to have gone unnoticed."

Om has been one of the most successful athletes in his weight class since his star turn at the 2012 Olympics. He won three consecutive world championships starting in 2013, and won both the Asian Games and the Asian championships in 2014.

Om settled for silver here on Sunday with a 303kg total, 10kg more than his London mark but not enough to beat Long Qingquan of China, who set a world record with 307kg. 

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