N.Korea Enjoys Unexpected Romp at London Games

North Korea has been sensational in the first few days of the 2012 London Olympics. Athletes from the reclusive country picked up two gold medals in men's weightlifting and women's judo on the second day of the Olympics on Sunday, placing the country sixth in the medal table.

North Korean Judoka An Kum-ae beat Cuba's Yanet Bermoy Acosta and won North Korea its first gold in the women's -52 kg category. Weightlifter Om Yun-chol lifted 125 kg in snatch and 168 kg in clean and jerk to win with a total of 293 kg in the men's -57 kg class. Weightlifter Kim Un-guk in the men's -62 kg class added another gold medal on Monday, placing North Korea fourth place in the medal count.

This is the first time North Korea has won two gold medals in one day since it made its Olympic debut in Munich in 1972. Its greatest success came in 1992 in Barcelona, when it emerged with four gold medals. However, in the last two decades, its sporting fortunes have dipped, leaving it with a total of just two gold medals from Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008.

Weightlifter Kim Un-guk competes during mens weightlifting -62kg competition, at London 2012 Olympic Games in London on Monday. Weightlifter Kim Un-guk competes during men's weightlifting -62kg competition, at London 2012 Olympic Games in London on Monday.

U.S. magazine Sports Illustrated predicted North Korea would win just one silver medal, while the Wall Street Journal tipped North Korea to finish around 50th in the medal count with two silver and two bronze medals.

The capacity of North Korean athletes was unknown to the rest of the world as the country only announced at the very last minute that it would send 56 athletes to London.

Its strategy of concentrating on its staple sporting disciplines seems to be working well. Among 56 North Korean athletes, eight compete in weightlifting and five in wresting. If North Korea continues to its winning streak, it could also grab a number of medals on the wrestling mats.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 31, 2012 13:23 KST