Arley Mendez earned the gold medal with a 169 kilogram lift to become the best weightlifter on the planet for the second consecutive year in the 85 kg weight class. The gold is the best result for Americas’ athletes at the World Weightlifting Championship in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

One month before the competition, training in Colombia, Chilean weightlifter Arley Mendez suffered a leg injury that made his attendance at the World Championship in Ashgabat questionable. However, he and his team decided to risk it all and travel to Central Asia.

It turned out to be a good decision. On his first lift in the Snatch competition, Arley showed the world why he is considered one of Chile’s best athletes and one of the best weightlifters of the country to go for an Olympic medal since Chile won its last one at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

With a best attempt of 169 kgs, Mendez tied Pavel Khadasesevic of Belarus, but Arley was given the gold because he has a lower body weight. Colombia’s weightlifter Jhor Moreno came in third with a lift of 168 kgs. The victory gave Mendez back-to-back golds at the World Championships, but he wanted more.

The pain from his injury was visible on the platform in Ashgabat, as Mendez attempted 210 kgs in the Clean but had to settle for 200 kgs on his second attempt. He finished in seventh place in the discipline and fifth in the Olympic total, unable to repeat his triple crown achieved at the World Championships in 2017.

“I am happy, the truth is that it has been a very difficult year because of the injury. I came with the intention of getting points for qualifying to the Olympic Games, but I won the gold medal and I couldn’t be happier. I dedicate this to my family and to all of Chile,” Mendez told Panam Sports in exclusive comments as he waited for doping control following the competition.

Mendez now begins a period of rest and recovery after his victory in Ashgabat. However, he will soon begin training once again to represent Chile and earn more gold medals for his country, this time at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games next July.