Olympic weightlifting is a sport in which an athlete attempts to achieve a maximum-weight lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates. The sport tests the human ballistic limits, also known as explosive strength. The lifts are executed quickly and with a high range of motion. There are two categories in which Olympic weightlifters compete – the snatch and the clean and jerk. Each athlete is allowed three lifts and the best attempt from each of the two categories is added together to form the final score. It’s important to differentiate between Olympic lifting and powerlifting, with the latter being popular predominantly in North America and involving exercises such as bench press, deadlights and squats.
For the snatch, the lifter needs to propel the barbell from the floor to an overhead position in a single movement. It is one of the most explosive movements in all of sports. However, the snatch is more about finesse and technique than power. When performed at competitions, the weight used for the snatch is heavy enough to force the athlete to receive the bar on top in a squatting position. When they secure that position, they perform an overhead squat to complete the lift. The current world record for a snatch is held by Behdad Salimi from Iran, who lifted 214 kg (471.8 lb) in the World Weightlifting Championship in 2011. However, the heaviest snatch ever was performed by Antonio Krastev from Bulgaria, who lifted 216 kg in 1987. Unfortunately, his lift is not considered as a World Record as the weight classes were reshuffled after 1992.
Clean and Jerk
Clean and jerk is a lift that, as the name suggests, involves two movements – the clean and the jerk. The clean consists of the athlete moving the barbell from the floor to a racked position on his deltoids. The jerk involves lifting the barbell above the head until the arms are locked out and the bar is steady. The current World Record in this category is held by Hossein Rezazadeh from Iran, who clean and jerked 263.5 kg (580.9lbs). Once again, the history knows of a heavier lift – Russian Leonid Taranenko lifted 266.00 kg (586.4 lb) but his record is not recognized by the International Weightlifting Federation. The women’s world record in clean and jerk was set just last year by Tatiana Kashirina from Russia, who lifted 190 kg in the World Weightlifting Championship.