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This Weightlifter Won Gold, Took Off His Shoes, Then Immediately Retired

Always go out on a high note.

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He already had managed to lift 142 kg (313 pounds) in the "snatch" event — wherein competitors lift the barbell above their heads from the ground in a clean movement and hold it for two seconds.

He had also lifted an astonishing 176 kg (388 pounds) in the "clean and jerk" section, where athletes must first raise the bar to their shoulders from the ground before holding it above their head.


With a combined total weight of 318 kg (701 pounds), he was already ahead of his nearest rival when he attempted his final clean and jerk lift of 179 kg.

The four-time Olympian was injured during the Beijing games and underwent back surgery as recently as January. So it's safe to say he was rather overwhelmed by his accomplishment.


"It's 22 years since I started and now is the time to retire, which is why I removed my shoes," he said, according to the International Weightlifting Federation. "But I am full of emotion — it’s as though I was lifting for the whole country, and those tears were for all of Colombia."

He did, however, hint that he would "think" about competing at the Tokyo games in four years time.

The Colombians in the crowd boomed with pride when the gold medal was placed around his neck, before leading a boisterous rendition of their national anthem.

If you're in the US, you can watch the entire emotional finish here on the NBC website.

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at

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