Ten days of exciting weightlifting competitions are behind us. Time for a summary and lots of facts, numbers, and data about the competitions and the protagonists of the last days. We also draw a comparison with the Olympic Games of previous years and have a number of interesting insights for you.
China remains the dominant nation – Eight medals for Europe
With eight medals, the Chinese athletes remained the most successful nation in the medal ranking. Since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the Asian superpower has ranked first in the medal counts and was able to significantly improve its “gold balance” once again in Tokyo. While five gold medals were won in each of the Olympic competitions between 2000 and 2016, a full seven were won at these Games.
Europe is losing ground to the other continents and was only able to win one gold medal at this year’s Olympics. With a total of eight medals, it was also the worst medal haul of the European federation in terms of the number of medals at all Olympic Games since the turn of the millennium.
One reason for the strong dominance of the Chinese and the weak yield of the Europeans, is probably the exclusion of the nations Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, and Romania but also in the reduction of the quota places of the following nations:
|More than 20 doping cases|
(maximum 1 athlete per gender):
|More than 10 doping cases|
(maximum 2 athletes per gender):
|Disqualified for too many
|ROC (40)||Bulgaria (19)||Thailand|
|Azerbaijan (34)||Ukraine (18)||Malaysia|
|Kazakhstan (34)||Uzbekistan (17)||Egypt|
|Armenia (21)||Moldova (14)|
|Thailand (20)||India (13)|
Nico Müller ensures the best result for German Weightlifting since 2008
The best result since the 2008 Olympic Games was achieved by Nico Müller from Obrigheim, Germany. He took seventh place in the up to 81 kg weight category. This was the best result of a German athlete since Matthias Steiner’s Olympic victory in Beijing.
Simon Brandhuber came in ninth place. Sabine Kusterer, as well as Lisa Marie Schweizer on rank ten, completed the result balance of the German federation.
German weightlifting fans have still to be patient when it comes to precious metal and hope for the continuation of weightlifting in the Olympic program. Before Steiner in 2008, the last medals were won by German athletes in 1996 and 2000, at the competitions in Atlanta and Sydney. Ronny Weller and Marc Huster both won gold (1996 and 2000) and Oliver Caruso won bronze (1996).
Looking ahead to 2024, assuming weightlifting remains in the Olympic program, much is still unclear from a German perspective. At the moment it is still unclear which athletes will continue their way towards Paris. Especially Lisa Marie Schweizer and Nico Müller would be wished another participation, because they showed their potential and how close they can come to a medal on a good day.
Was the strongest German athlete in Tokyo
Four world records within the Olympic events
The international anti-doping fight now seems to be reflected in the Tokyo results lists. Compared to the past Olympic Games, the setting of new world records was limited to only two athletes. Only China’s Zhiyong Shi and Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze were able to achieve new bests in their weight classes. Talakhadze set three new records in the process.
If you look a little deeper into the results lists, even greater differences become apparent. We compared some results from the 2015 World Championships (before the doping scandal in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics), with the results from Tokyo and noticed some striking developments.
Since the IWF undertook a weight class reform in 2018, the most comparable categories were used for this purpose.
Female Category up to 63 kg (old) / up to 64 kg 2015 (Worlds Houston): 259 kg 2021 (Olympics Tokyo): 236 kg Potential ranking of the 2021 Olympic champion at the 2015 World Cup: 7th place
Female Category up to 75 kg (old) / up to 76 kg 2015 (Worlds Houston): 282 kg 2021 (Olympics Tokyo): 263 kg Potential ranking of the 2021 Olympic champion at the 2015 World Cup: 5th place
Male Category up to 62 kg (old) / up to 61 kg 2015 (Worlds Houston): 333 kg 2021 (Olympics Tokyo): 313 kg Potential ranking of the 2021 Olympic champion at the 2015 World Cup: 6th place
Male Category up to 69 kg (old) / up to 67 kg 2015 (Worlds Houston): 348 kg 2021 (Olympics Tokyo): 332 kg Potential ranking of the 2021 Olympic champion at the 2015 World Cup: 6th place.
One can only hope that these exemplary performance developments point to a new level of fairness. A fairness that allows all athletes, through a combination of talent and diligence, to achieve top results and to compete internationally for medals.
Historic gold medals for Qatar and the Philippines
For two countries, there were the first gold medals in their entire state history during these Olympic Games and that in weightlifting. For the Philippines, Hidilyn Diaz won the first gold in the up to 55 kg weight class and became a national heroine overnight.
The Qatari Fares Ibrahim Elbakh alias Meso Hassona did the same. The 23-year-old won the first gold medal for the Gulf state in the up to 96 kg weight class.
Won the first Olympic gold medal in the history of his country
Judges and jury in the focus of many critics
Especially international competitions in weightlifting offer a special feature because at these events the regulations of the world federation IWF require the presence of a multi-member jury in addition to the three judges. The jury has the right to overrule the decisions of the judges by unanimous vote.
Throughout the Olympic Games, the jury concentrated mainly on the press-out rule, sometimes sanctioning harshly and not insignificantly for the awarding of medals. The jury cannot be blamed for this. Rather, the problem lies with the rules and regulations of international weightlifting events, which are hardly comprehensible to outsiders. At the time of the competition, the officials were acting to the best of their knowledge and belief and for that, they deserve the fullest respect.
However, it is also true that some decisions seemed arbitrary and other offenses, such as the lack of a parallel foot position or the release of the barbell from an incomplete position, were often not sanctioned. But it is now up to the world federation to draw the necessary conclusions from the events and to make weightlifting attractive for the future.
The introduction of video evidence and the abolition of the outdated press-out rule would be a start to making the sport more attractive again.