Who will lift their way to gold in Tokyo. Photo: Olympics.com

Whilst no Australians have been named for weightlifting in Tokyo 2020, the event still offers plenty of intrigue, showcasing insane strength

There are seven weight class for both males and females in Weightlifting at Tokyo 2020. For all your Olympic coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

One of the most interesting sports to watch, weightlifting showcases the insane raw explosive strength and determination of these athletes.

Australia is yet to announce any weightlifters competing in Tokyo.

China will look to continue their dominance in Tokyo, after having a strong showing at the Rio 2016 games winning two gold and two silver medals in the men’s categories and three of the seven gold medals in women’s.

The Tokyo games will see slight altercations to the weight classes from the 2016 Rio games due to the International Weightlifting Federation introduced new bodyweight categories in November 2018.

In Rio there were eight male weight classes however that has been reduced to seven with the 56kg male weight class being removed for Tokyo 2020.

At Tokyo 2020 the men’s weight classes are 61kg, 67kg, 73kg, 81kg, 96kg, 109kg and 109kg+. The womens are 49kg, 55kg, 59kg, 64kg, 76kg, 87kg and 87kg+.

Olympic Weightlifting is broken into two stages, the ‘snatch’ and the ‘clean and jerk’. The snatch is where the weightlifter picks up the barbell and lifts it above their head in one singular motion. The clean and jerk is where the weightlifter is required to first pick up the barbell and bring it to their chest and then extend their arms and legs to lift the barbell above their head with straight elbows. For both lifts, the bar must be held above the head for at least two seconds.

Each competitor gets three attempts at both the ‘snatch’ and the “clean and jerk’, with their best attempt in each added together. Whichever weightlifter has the highest combined score is declared the winner.

In the case of two competitors having the same combined weight then the lifter with the lighter bodyweight is declared the winner. If they have matching bodyweights the one with lesser attempts is the winner.

Olympic Weightlifting is a final only format where athletes must nominate their starting weight going in order of lowest to highest. After a successful lift, a competitor can increase the weight for their next attempt. Due to the difference in nominated starting weight, some athletes may complete all three of their lifts before others have their first attempt.

Why to watch

Weightlifting is a must-see event at the games, while it may seem simple in essence it requires supreme physical strength, strong mental control, perfect technique and absolute focus.

As is the case with many sports, each Olympics the athletes seem to get better and better, breaking and setting new Olympic and world records.

The 2016 Rio games were no different with five world records and nine Olympic records set by the males. In the women’s four new Olympic records were set and one world record.

Two new women’s weight classes will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo, 87kg and 87kg+, levelling the playing field for the smaller women who previously competed in the 75kg+ category.

Australia’s history in Weightlifting

Weightlifting has not been one of Australia’s premier events at the Olympic Games, having claimed one gold, one silver and two bronzes since our debut in the event at the London 1948 games.

At the 1952 Helsinki games, Australia won its first medal with Vern Barberis win Bronze in the men’s 67.5kg lightweight category.

It took another 32 years before Australia would have another podium finish in weightlifting. Dean Lukin won Australia’s first and only gold medal as a superheavyweight (110kg+) and Robert Kabbas won a silver as a light heavyweight (75–82.5 kg) at Los Angles in 1984.

Australia won its last medal at Atlanta 1996 when super-heavyweight Stefan Botev (108kg+) won bronze.

Australia sent two weightlifters to Rio in 2016, Simplice Ribouem who finished 13th in the men’s 94kg category and Tia-Clair Toomey who finished 14th in the women’s 58kg category.

Important dates

24th JulyWomens 49kg
25th JulyMens 61kg
Mens 67kg
26th JulyWomens 55kg
27th JulyWomens 59kg
Womens 64kg
28th JulyMen 73kg
31st JulyMen 81kg
Men 96kg
1st AugustWomen 76kg
2nd AugustWomen 87kg
Women 87kg+
3rd AugustMen 109kg
4th AugustMen 109kg+

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Medal favourites

Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze (109kg+) has become must-watch TV since he burst onto the weightlifting scene at the 2015 World Championships where he claimed gold.

Since then he has won gold in every major competition, he has entered winning five European Championships, four world championships and gold at Rio 2016.  He has set several world records in his career and is considered one of the best super-heavyweight lifters of all time.

With Rio 2016 gold medallist Deng Wei not selected for China due to injury, four-time European champion Loredana Toma of Romania will be the favourite in the women’s 64kg category but will be sweating on Romania to avoid suspension for her to compete. Romania is facing sanctions due to being caught doping in weightlifting at the 2012 London Olympics. Canada’s Maude Charron is also likely to medal.

Both 2016 Rio silver medallist, Tian Tao of China and 2016 Rio Gold Medallist Sohrab Moradi are both unable to compete in the games due to injury, leaving the 96kg weight class open. Canadas Boady Santavy is a leading contender while Fares El-Bakh of Qatar is also one of the favourites as he currently leads the rankings.

The men’s 61kg will be a tight contest between China’s Li Fabin who currently tops the world rankings but is only narrowly ahead of his nearest rival Indonesia’s Eko Yuli Irawan. Fabin is a strong clean and jerker and this may be where he can edge out his rival.

Rio 2016 silver medallist, Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines will be the favourite in the women’s 55kg but will have tight competition from the talented Liao Qiuyun which should make for an interesting contest at 55 kg.

The United States will also be in the hunt for medals with CJ Cummings (73kg) an exciting prospect in the men’s. The 21-year old is a four-time Junior World Champion and Pan American Champion in 2019. In the women’s Jourdan Delacruz (49kg) a two time Pan American Champion will be hoping for similar success in her Olympic debut. Whilst veteran Sarah Robles will be wanting to improve from her 2016 performance in Rio where she won bronze in the Women’s 75kg+. Robles will be aiming to be the inaugural winner of the women’s 87kg+ category.

Additional info

Tokyo will mark the sixth Olympic games to have women competing in weightlifting, first introduced at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Weightlifting was part of the inaugural Olympic Games in 1896 and has been a mainstay since the 1920 games in Antwerp Belgium. At the 1896 games there was a second weightlifting event in which athletes would lift with one hand. The event was discontinued at the 1924 Paris games.

Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet will be representing the Refugee Olympic Team in the 96kg men’s weightlifting. Born in Cameroon, now living in the United Kingdom, Tchatchet will be hoping to send a strong message of what perseverance and determination can achieve.

All the weightlifting will take place at the Tokyo International Forum, beginning on July 24th with the women’s 49kg and ending on August 4th with the men’s 109kg+.

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