Icons of Asia: Eko Yuli Irawan

After winning medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and London four years later, Eko Yuli Irawan is bidding to become the first Indonesian weightlifter to medal at three successive Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

Born in 1989, Irawan first made his international debut at the 2006 Junior World Championships, where he won the silver medal in the 56kg category after finishing with a total lift of 269kg.

His performance in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was good enough to qualify him for the World Championships later that year, and although he could only muster an eighth-place finish, competing against the best weightlifters in the world proved a valuable experience for him.

The following year, in 2007, he again took part in the Junior and World Championships in the same weight category. This time, though, things went much better for the Indonesian, winning the gold and bronze medals respectively, with a personal best of 278kg.

By 2008, Irawan had moved up to the 56kg category, but continued to excel, winning the silver medal at the Asian Championships with 305 kg in total.

However, in Beijing later that year, Irawan opted to drop down to the bantamweight category once more, and it proved to be the correct decision, with his total lift of 288kg enough to earn him the bronze medal.


From 2009, Irawan has competed exclusively as a featherweight and continued to perform admirably in major competitions.

A silver at the 2009 Worlds and a bronze at the 2011 global competition put him in good stead for the showpiece in London the next year.

In the British capital, he produced a personal best of 317kg, which was enough to earn him the bronze medal.


Since the London Olympics, Irawan has consistently been one of the top featherweight weightlifters in the world, as his bronze medal at the Asian Championships in 2014 and the silver medal at the 2014 World Championships attests to.

He will start as one of the favourites to win the gold in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

Major achievements:

Olympic Games: Bronze (2)
World Championships: Silver (2), Bronze (2)
Asia Games: Bronze (2)
Southeast Asia Games: Gold (4)