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Naim Suleymanoglu

Naim Suleymanoglu
Atlanta, 22 July 1996, Games of the XXVI Olympiad. Men's weightlifting, featherweight: Eventual winner Naim SULEYMANOGLU of Turkey competes in the clean and jerk. Credit: Getty Images/BRUTY Simon

Other names: SHALAMANOV, Naum


Born: 23 January 1967

Birthplace: Ptichar (Bulgaria)

Nationality: Turkey

Sport: Weightlifting


Seoul 1988

Barcelona 1992

Atlanta 1996

Sydney 2000


Olympic medals:

Gold: 3

Other results:

World Championships

Gold: 7 (1985,1986,1989,1991,1993,1994,1995)

Silver: 1 (1983)

The Pocket Hercules

Naim Suleymanoglu was born to Turkish parents living in Bulgaria. Only 1.47m tall, he quickly attracted attention for his weightlifting ability. He set his first adult world record when he was only 15 years old. In 1984, at the age of 16, he became the second lifter to clean and jerk three times his bodyweight. Bulgaria boycotted that year's Olympic Games, but a few weeks later Süleymanoglu lifted 30kg more than the Olympic winner in his weight category. In 1986, Suleymanoglu defected to Turkey and represented that country at the 1988 Olympics. Competing in the featherweight division, he broke the world record in both the snatch and the jerk, and won the gold medal by 30kg. In fact, his combined total was greater than that of the winner of the lightweight division. Suleymanoglu was undefeated for 8½ years, but at the 1992 European Championships he was beaten by Nikolay Peshalov of Bulgaria. Three months later, at the Barcelona Olympics, Suleymanoglu turned the tables and beat Peshalov by 15kg. Four years later, at the Atlanta Olympics, Suleymanoglu engaged in a tremendous duel with Valerios Leonidis of Greece and finally earned his third gold medal by breaking his own world record. Suleymanoglu tried to win a fourth gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but he missed three times while trying to snatch 145kg and was eliminated.

(Credit: IOC. Click here for further information.)

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