RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 8 (UPI) — North Korean weightlifter Om Yun Chol said that he is “not a hero” after he failed to win a gold medal at the Rio Olympic games.
Om was competing in the men’s 56-kg competition, where he won the silver. Chinese athlete Long Qingquan was awarded the gold medal, South Korean news service News 1 reported.
Om, 25, heaved 134 kg in the snatch, jerked 169, lifting a total of 303 kg.
Long beat Om’s jerking record when he lifted 170 kg.
Om said that he was “disappointed” that he did not win the gold.
But the North Korean athlete said he wanted to congratulate his Chinese rival.
Choe Ryong Hae, one of North Korea’s most powerful politicians, was in attendance at the match.
Choe reportedly walked out after results confirmed Om did not win the top prize.
Choe, who is in Rio for the Olympics, met with Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer, according to Pyongyang newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
North Korean media reported Choe was meeting with Temer to develop “friendly cooperative relationships” with Brazil.
Choe also met with politicians from Switzerland, the European republic of San Marino, Angola and Zambia, in addition to holding talks with the chairman of the International Olympic Committee, Pyongyang stated.
Jeong Joon-hee, South Korea’s unification ministry spokesman, said North Korea’s sports diplomacy is a focus for the Kim Jong Un regime as part of its “image enhancement” strategy.
Jeong said North Korea’s options are “fairly limited” because the country is under heavy sanctions, and Pyongyang wants to prove it is a “normal state” during the Summer Games.