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Articles: Weightlifting


Weightlifting is one of the ultimate sporting tests of human strength; it is an Olympic sport in which the athlete lifts a weight made of a barbell loaded with weight plates. In competition, there are two style of lifts used: the snatch and the clean and jerk.

The earliest known references to weightlifting can be found in Egypt, China and ancient Greece. Over the years and the centuries, this activity evolved and the modern sport of weightlifting can trace its origins to European competitions during the 19th century.

The modern sport is governed by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). The IWF is based in Budapest and was founded in 1905. To ensure fairness between competitors, competitions are divided by the athletes’ weight into different weight divisions. Weightlifting has been an Olympic sport since the 1920 Olympics.

Both men and women take part in weightlifting in multiple weight divisions. Additionally, there are junior, senior, and adult subdivisions within competitions.

The weightlifting scene

The main objective in weightlifting is to lift a barbell with larger-diameter rotating sleeves on either end. Weight plates, called "bumper plates" because of their rubber design, are added to reach the desired weight, these plates weigh between 0.5 kg and 25 kg. The plates are color coded; 10 kg is green, 15 kg is yellow, 20 kg is blue, and 25 kg is red. In addition, when small increments of weight need to be added, iron plates are used; 1 kg is green, 1.5 kg is yellow, 2 kg is blue, 2.5 kg is red,5 kg and 0.5 kg are white. The main weights are secured by collars added to each sleeve, which weigh exactly 2.5 kg each.

Competitors wear a one-piece figure hugging leotard often called a singlet, and have the option to wear a T-shirt underneath the singlet. Lifters also wear a weightlifting belt that cannot exceed 120mm in width; these belts are worn to provide lower back support. To enable the lifter to get the best grip on the barbell, chalk is used to promote dryness and prevent the bar from moving. Lifters are also allowed to use the chalk on the collarbone to prevent the barbell from slipping. Competitors can use tape to cover areas of the body which are affected by friction while competing. Finally, weightlifters wear shoes that have a raised heel of 0.5" to 1.5", with one or two metatarsal straps that tighten across the instep of the shoe.

A weightlifting contest

Weightlifting competitions begin with competitor registration. After registering, lots are drawn to determine the order of the lifters. The lifters then select the weight they want to attempt to lift. After the selection of weight, the competition starts with the lifter who selected the smallest weight to lift. Once the competition is in full swing and the lifters are rotating to the lifting platform, lifters have 1 minute to begin their lift after their name is called.

Rules of weightlifting

Weightlifting competitions include two types of lift: 'clean and jerk' lift and 'snatch' lift. Each athlete gets 3 attempts at each type of lift, and the combined total is the winner.

The snatch

When executing the snatch lift, the barbell is lifted in a single movement from the platform floor to the full extent of both arms above the head. The lifter squats down during the snatching motion, but he then has to fully extend both legs and reach a full standing position.

The clean and jerk

The clean and jerk, as its name implies, is composed of two distinct parts: the clean and the jerk.

The lifter attempts to lift the barbell in a single movement from the platform to the shoulders, while either splitting or bending the legs. At that point, the legs are brought back together.

Following on from the clean, the lifter then jerks the weight from the shoulders to above their head with their arms fully extended and their legs completely straight.

Aside from the technicalities of executing each lift, there are other generalized rules that must be followed. At no point can any part of the lifter - apart from their shoes - touch the platform. For the lift to count, the athlete must be completely stationary for a full second. Scoring is done by 3 judges, who judge the form of the lift to ensure it is correct.

There are very few tactics in weightlifting since the sport is about lifting the heaviest weight you can bear. There are big roles for coaches in weight lifting - not just in terms of training for the lift, but also the psychological aspect of ‘psyching-up’ the athlete to perform at his maximum ability.

Professional weightlifting

There are very few professional weightlifters, and most lifters are funded through home lifting federations and sponsorships, depending on the country where the lifter comes from and the weightlifting popularity. Even though some competitions have money prizes, it is not really sufficient for a lifter to make a full-time living off it.

The main events in weightlifting are the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Continental Championships held each year. In addition, there are several other grand prix events held every year. Competitions are structured as straight up rounds of lifts until there is a winner.

Betting on weight lifting

Generally, betting on weightlifting is a straight up bet on the event winner. There are some special bets on beating weight totals and records. Usually, bets are year round on the main competitions and every four years on the Olympics.