Weightlifting is a sport where athletes lift barbells loaded with weights. Weightlifting tests the strength, power and technique of athletes.
By whom, where and when was Weightlifting invented?
Weightlifting has ancient origins. It was practised both by ancient Egyptian and Greek societies. It developed as an international sport primarily in the 19th century, and is one of the few sports to have featured at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.
At the beginning of the century, Austria, Germany and France were the most successful nations. However in the 1950s, the Soviet Union’s weightlifters rose to prominence and stayed there until the 1990s, when China, Turkey, Greece and Iran catapulted to the lead. In the women’s field, China has been dominant since the very beginning.
What are the rules of Weightlifting?
Weightlifters compete in bodyweight categories, or weight classes.
There are two stages in Olympic weightlifting – the snatch and the clean and jerk.
In snatch weightlifters pick up the barbell and lift it above their head in one singular motion.
In the clean and jerk weightlifters are first required to pick up the barbell and bring it up to their chest (clean). The lifters must then pause and extend their arms and legs to lift it above the head (jerk) with a straight elbow and have to hold it there until a buzzer is sounded.
A weightlifter is given three snatch attempts and three clean and jerk attempts each. A weightlifter’s best attempt at snatch and the clean and jerk are then added up and the one with the highest combined weight lifted is declared the winner.
What is the difference between Weightlifting and Weight Lifting?
Weightlifting, is the sport that is contested in the Olympics that tests strength and technique of athletes. Weight lifting mainly involves training with weights or strength training.
Weightlifting and the Olympics
Although men’s weightlifting has always been on the programme of the Olympic Games—except for the 1900, 1908 and 1912 editions—women started to participate only at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
The Olympic weightlifting programme has evolved greatly over time. Today, weightlifters compete in snatch and clean and jerk, and are placed according to their total combined result. From the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney onwards, men have competed in eight weight categories and women in seven.
Athletes competed in seven men’s and women’s weightlifting classes at Tokyo 2020.
Best Weightlifters to watch
Weightlifters from the People’s Republic of China have been the dominant force in the sport for many years.
Li Fabin, Shi Zhiyong, Lasha Talakhadze, Hou Zhihui, Kuo Hsing-Chun, Katherine Nye, Mattie Rogers are among some of the best weightlifters to keep an eye on.
Weightlifting Competition Rules at Paris 2024
In total, 120 athletes will compete in the Paris 2024 weightlifting competition, a drop from 196 in Tokyo. For each weight category established at Paris 2024, a maximum of 12 athletes will compete.
The weightlifting competition in each weight category will be composed of two events: snatch, and clean and jerk.
The weight classes for men are - 61kg, 73kg, 89kg,102kg,+102kg
For Women: - 49kg, 59kg, 71kg, 81kg, +81kg.
For each event, the athletes will have three attempts, with the best result used for the calculation of the total results. The final ranking will be based on the total weight that the athletes manage to lift.
How to qualify for Weightlifting at Paris 2024
Weightlifting (often known as Olympic weightlifting) is a sport in which athletes compete in lifting a barbell loaded with weight plates from the ground to overhead, with the aim of successfully lifting the heaviest weights. Athletes compete in two specific ways of lifting the barbell overhead. The snatch is a wide-grip lift, in which the weighted barbell is lifted overhead in one motion. The clean and jerk is a combination lift, in which the weight is first taken from the ground to the front of the shoulders (the clean), and then from the shoulders to over the head (the jerk).
Each weightlifter gets three attempts at both the snatch and the clean and jerk, with the snatch attempted first. An athlete's score is the combined total of the highest successfully-lifted weight in kilograms for each lift. Athletes compete in various weight classes, which are different for each sex and have changed over time.
Weightlifting is an Olympic sport, and has been contested in every Summer Olympic Games since 1920. While the sport is officially named "weightlifting", the terms "Olympic weightlifting" and "Olympic-style weightlifting" are often used to distinguish it from the other sports and events that involve the lifting of weights, such as powerlifting, weight training, and strongman events. Similarly, the snatch and the clean and jerk are known as the "Olympic lifts".
While other strength sports test limit strength, Olympic-style weightlifting also tests aspects of human ballistic limits (explosive strength): the olympic lifts are executed faster, and with more mobility and a greater range of motion during their execution, than other barbell lifts. The Olympic lifts, and their component lifts (e.g., cleans, squats) and their variations (e.g., power snatch, power clean) are used by elite athletes in other sports to train for both explosive and functional strength.
Competition The sport is competed at local, national, and international levels. The sport is governed internationally by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), which runs the World Weightlifting Championships each year.
Main articles: Snatch (weightlifting), Clean and jerk, and Clean and press
Mohammad Reza Barari, an Iranian lifter, snatching at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil
The snatch is a lift wherein an athlete sweeps the barbell up and overhead in one fluid action: the lifter takes a wide-grip on the bar and pulls the barbell off the floor before rapidly re-bending their knees to get themself under the barbell (usually bringing themself into a deep overhead squat position), so that the barbell is supported over their head with arms outstretched. The snatch is then completed by the lifter rising to a standing position whilst holding the barbell overhead. The snatch demands precise balance.
Lidia Valentín of Spain performing a clean at the 2012 Olympic Games in London
The clean and jerk is a combination lift, in which the athlete gets the barbell overhead in two stages: first by lifting the barbell into support on the front of the shoulders (the clean), and then lifting it from shoulders to overhead (the jerk). To perform the clean, the lifter takes a shoulder-width grip on the bar and pulls it off the floor, and then rapidly re-bends their knees (and bends their arms) to get their body under the barbell and "catch" the bar on the front of the shoulders (usually in a deep front squat position). The lifter finishes the clean by rising to a standing position whilst holding the barbell on the front of their shoulders. The lifter then uses the jerk to jump into a bent knees position (most commonly with one foot forward and the other back, a technique known as the split jerk) whilst pumping the barbell overhead. The jerk is completed when the lifter re-straightens the legs (bringing them together after a split jerk) so they come to a straight standing position with the barbell held overhead.
A third lift, the clean and press, was also a competition lift from 1924 through 1972. It entails a clean followed by an overhead press. The overhead press is distinguished from the jerk, in that jerking movements, bending of the legs, and displacement of the feet are prohibited. It was discontinued after 1972 due to difficulties in judging proper form.
In each weight division, lifters compete in both the snatch and the clean and jerk. Prizes are usually given for the heaviest weights lifted in each and in the overall—the maximum lifts of both added. The order of the competition is up to the lifters—the competitor who chooses to attempt the lowest weight goes first. If they are unsuccessful at that weight, they have the option of reattempting at that weight or trying a heavier weight after any other competitors have made attempts at the previous weight or any other intermediate weights. The barbell is loaded incrementally and progresses to a heavier weight throughout the course of competition. Weights are set in 1-kilogram increments. If two athletes lift the same weight, they are both credited with it but in terms of placing the one who lifted the weight first gets the highest placing.
During competition, the snatch event takes place first, followed by a short intermission, and then the clean and jerk event. There are two side judges and one head referee who together provide a "successful" or "failed" result for each attempt based on their observation of the lift within the governing body's rules and regulations. Two successes are required for any attempt to pass. Usually, the judges' and referee's results are registered via a lighting system with a white light indicating a "successful" lift and a red light indicating a "failed" lift. This is done for the benefit of all in attendance be they athlete, coach, administrator or audience. In addition, one or two technical officials may be present to advise during a ruling.
Lifters who fail to successfully complete at least one snatch and at least one clean and jerk fail to total, and receive an "incomplete" entry for the competition.
Local competition rules
At local competitions, a "Best Lifter" title is commonly awarded. It is awarded to both the best men's and women's lifters. The award is based on a formula which employs the "Sinclair coefficient", a coefficient derived and approved by the sport's world governing body, which allows for differences in both gender and bodyweight. When the formula is applied to each lifter's overall total and then grouped along with the other competitors' and evaluated, it provides a numeric result which determines the competition's best overall men's and women's lifters. And while, usually, the winner of the heaviest weight class will have lifted the most overall weight during the course of a competition, a lifter in a lighter weight class may still have lifted more weight both relative to their own bodyweight, and to the Sinclair coefficient formula, thereby garnering the "Best Lifter" award.
Competitions to establish who can lift the heaviest weight have been recorded throughout civilization, with the earliest known recordings including those found in Egypt, China, India, and Ancient Greece.
Early international competitions
The international sport of weightlifting began with the First World Weightlifting Championships in 1891, in London, with Edward Lawrence Levy becoming the first world champion;
In 1896, the inaugural Olympic Games in Athens included weightlifting in the field event (the predecessor to today's track and field or athletics event). In the early Olympic Games a distinction was drawn between lifting with 'one hand' only and lifting with 'two hands', and all competitors competed together regardless of their size and weight. The winner of the 'one hand' competition in 1896 was Launceston Elliot of Scotland, while the winner of the 'two hands' event was Viggo Jensen of Denmark.
Further World Weightlifting Championships followed in 1898 in Austria, 1899 in Milan, and 1903 in Paris, with the International Weightlifting Federation being founded in 1905.
Weightlifting was next contested at the Olympics in the 1904 Games (again in athletics), and at the 1906 Intercalated Games, but was omitted from the Games of 1900, 1908 and 1912 (1912 being the last Games until after the First World War).