Weightlifting

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This article describes the sport of weightlifting. For information on muscle-building activity involving weights, refer to the weight training article.
Image:Weightlifting.jpg
A weightlifter about to jerk 205 kg<ref>Cossel, Benjamin J. (March 25, 2004). "Soldiers help Iraq's heavy lifters. USAREUR Public Affairs.</ref>

Weightlifting is a sport where competitors attempt to lift heavy weights mounted on steel bars, the execution of which is a combination of power and technique. The term "weightlifting" is often informally used to refer to weight training. Olympic weightlifting trains the athlete for functional strength, utilizing the body's major muscle groups. For this reason, the Olympic lifts (or simplified versions such as the Power Snatch and Power Clean) are extensively used in training for other sports such as rugby and American Football.

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[edit] The lifts

There are two different weightlifting events—the "snatch", in which competitors must lift the barbell above their head in one steady movement, and the "clean and jerk" where competitors first "clean" the barbell from the floor to an intermediate position squating with the barbell resting in front of the neck on the clavicle and deltoid muscles, then stand straight while continuing to rest the barbell, then "jerking" the barbell to a position above their head. In both cases, for a successful lift, competitors must hold the bar steady above their heads, with arms and legs straight and motionless. A third lift, the "clean and press" or simply "press", was practiced in the Olympics until 1972. The clean and press differs from the clean and jerk, in that the weight is pressed directly up from the chest in slow controlled motion rather than being jerked. The event was eliminated due to the difficulty in judging whether the lift was performed correctly.

Three judges judge the successful completion of the lift. Once a competitor has met the requirements in their opinion, each judge shines a white light. When at least two white lights are shown, the lift is regarded as successful and the competitor may return the bar to the platform. If the competitor fails to achieve a successful lift in the opinion of a judge, a red light is shown. The bar must be lifted to at least knee level within 60 seconds of the bar being loaded or the lift does not count. If the competitor is making two consecutive lifts then they are permitted 120 seconds for the second lift.

[edit] Competition

Competitors compete in one of eight (seven for women) divisions determined by their body mass. The men's classes are 56 kg, 62 kg, 69 kg, 77 kg, 85 kg, 94 kg, 105 kg and 105+ kg. The women's classes are 48 kg, 53 kg, 58 kg, 63 kg, 69 kg, 75 kg, and 75+ kg. In each weight division, competitors compete in both the snatch and clean and jerk, and prizes are usually given for the heaviest weights lifted in the snatch, clean and jerk, and the two combined.

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 that lift, or trying a heavier weight later (after any other competitors have made attempts at that weight or any intermediate weights). Weights are set in 1 kilogram increments (previously 2.5kg increments), and each lifter can have a maximum of three lifts, regardless of whether lifts are successful or not.

Weightlifting can be an awe-inspiring spectator sport, as competitors expend massive psychological and physical efforts to lift weights over twice their own body weight. Although its popularity has been in decline since loosing some fans to the relatively new sport of "powerlifting", weightlifting continues to attract many followers, especially in some European countries, where it is most popular sport.

The competitive sport is controlled by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). Based in Budapest, it was founded in 1905.

[edit] Top lifters

From the 1950s to the 1980s many successful elite weightlifters were from the USSR and parts of eastern Europe, including Bulgaria and Romania. A poll completed by the IWF in 1982 produced Tommy Kono as the greatest weightlifter in history. Tommy Kono represented the United States setting 26 world records, winning 2 Olympic Gold Medals (1952 and 1956) and an Olympic Silver Medal (1960). Kono remains the only weightlifter to set world records in four different weight classes. Vasily Alexeyev of the USSR set 80 world records and won two gold medals during the 1970s. Since then, lifters from China, Iran, Greece and Turkey have competed successfully at the international level. In the history of the sport, only four weightlifters have managed to capture three Olympic gold medals. Naim Suleymanoglu of Turkey won Olympic gold in 1988, 1992 and 1996, while Pyrros Dimas and Kakhi Kakhiashvili of Greece and Halil Mutlu of Turkey repeated the same feat, with three successive victories through the 2000 Olympic Games for the two Greeks, and through the 2004 Games for Mutlu. In 1996, Andrei Chemerkin of Russia won Olympic gold in the Super Heavyweight class. Reports were dominated by photos of the nearly 400 pound weightlifter bounding jubillant and triumphant in mid air over his fully loaded bar, having jumped for joy over his victory. Chemerkin won the bronze in 2000. At the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, Dimas won a bronze medal in the 85kg class, becoming the fourth weightlifter in history to win a medal at four different Games after Norbert Schemansky (1964), Ronny Weller (2000) and Nikolay Peshalov (2004). The men's Super Heavyweight Class (at present, the 105+ kg category), a perennial favorite among spectators, is currently dominated by Iranian Hossein Reza Zadeh who first set a world record at the world championships and another on the road to a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Reza Zadeh has since broken his own records on a number of occasions, including at the 2004 Athens Games, where he captured his second olympic gold medal.

[edit] Records

The total record in the men's 56 kg class is 305 kg, in the 105+ kg class it is 472.5 kg. The Sinclair Coefficients are used as a tool to devise rankings of weightlifters across different weight classes.

The current record for the clean and jerk in the women's 75+ kg class is held by Gonghong Tang of China, who lifted 182.5 kg at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The heaviest snatch of all time, 216kg, is owned by Antonio Krastev of Bulgaria. Leonid Taranenko of the then Soviet Union holds the heaviest clean & jerk of all time, 266.0kg. These lifts have yet to be beaten in competition.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

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Weightlifting

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