Just imagine: two weeks, 13 days of captivating and thrilling performances at the major Qualifying event for the Olympic Games in Paris are already over. Lots of work was done during this time, tons of interviews, training sessions with world-level lifters, dramatic performances of ten Men’s and Women’s weight divisions, and so on.
This list can be added with other memorable moments that have no end. But, let’s focus on the most unexpected and at the same time most impressive and long-awaited ones.
Our overall impression after the IWF WWC 2023
By finalizing all 13 days of this world weightlifting contest, we can admit that the most interesting categories were Men’s 89 kg, Men’s 109 kg, and Women’s 81 kg. Some of the supposed leaders at these weight classes didn’t manage to get on the podium by clinching just single medals at separate exercises.
Speaking about the overall atmosphere, it was quite strange for us to see a great number of spectators at the training hall, but not at the competition area itself, where athletes were gathering to train with weights. Maybe, the reason was the weather in Riyadh: indeed, the temperature was very high and unusual for the majority of contenders, and the air was really stuffy, both outside and inside the training building.
About the Top 3 medal ranking and leading countries
Lots of World Records, both Senior and Junior ones, were beaten at the competition, and dominantly it was made by athletes who weren’t among the leaders at the openers prior the performance. What’s more, many lifters of the Group B were on the podium among the Group A winners.
To summarize the medal totals, it’s obvious that the leading nation is China: Chinese lifters brought 33 medals overall – 20 gold, 10 silver, and 3 bronze medals are under their belt. The second country is South Korea with 18 medals total: 4 gold, 7 silver, and 7 bronze medals. Colombia closes the list with 13 medals overall: 2 gold, 8 silver, and 3 bronze.
About the supposed and unexpected wins
To remind of the most bright and dramatic moments of the competition from the very beginning, we were witness to tens of WRs breaks. Again, China dominated here: male and female lifters in the Women’s 49 kg and 59 kg, Men’s 61 kg, 67 kg, and 102 kg; while Women’s 71 kg, Women’s 81 kg weight divisions succeeded to set Senior and Junior world records in their totals and the Clean & Jerk exercise.
It was a surprise that the American athletes showed quite good results at this Qualifying event. Despite the fact that a 19-year-old Hampton Morris failed to lift 123 kg in Snatch on all three attempts and make a total, he compensated it by beating the American Olympic record of 1972 in C&J of 168 kg by setting the JWR in the Men’s 61 kg division. Another American lifter, Olivia Reeves competing in the Women’s 71 kg weight category also beat JWR in total of 253 kg and C&J of 142 kg.
The WWC spectators had high hopes for the representatives of the Men’s 61 kg, namely for Italian Sergio Massidda and Chinese Li Fabin. Fortunately, they met the expectations: Li Fabin took gold with the results of 141-167-308 by claiming his third world title, while Sergio caught silver with a total of 137-165-302.
This time Egyptian Sara Samir outclassed the Women’s 76 kg despite being out of her peak form because of a back injury a week prior to the competition. She made the overall of 108-138-246 and took gold. However, this result was her lowest total for the last five years, namely it’s worse than her previous at Bogota (113-148-261).
On the watch for the most competitive divisions
The Men’s 89 kg weight class was believed to be the most anticipated and eye-grabbing category at the WWC in Riyadh. However, several big names saw red lights and fails. China’s world record holders Li Dayin and Tian Tao were in trouble and after two failures didn’t make the podium in the Snatch exercise. However, Li managed to clinch silver with a total of 170-213-383, by surpassing his teammate. Tao had three ‘no lifts’ in C&J trying to lift 214 kg, so he dropped out of the contest.
His rival, Keydomar Vallenilla from Venezuela got bronze with an overall of 171-210-381 which was 4 kg lower than his best in the qualifying.
Another sensation happened in this category: Chilean lifter Arley Mendez, a possible medal winner, had withdrawn his accreditation before the weigh-in and was out of Olympic qualifying.
Speaking about the Women’s 81 kg, we were impressed by Liang Xiaomei from China who made her final attempt of 159 kg and became the first C&J world record holder.
However, we got upset news about Solfrid Koanda, a Norwegian lifter, as she bombed out of the women’s 87 kg after being moved up from the 81 kg division. She was ranked as one of the strongest favorites in any weight category in Riyadh after four straight wins.
But, she didn’t get a chance to take a medal in her category: she failed three times to make a Snatch of 115 kg. But, she showed her power in C&J and won the gold in this exercise. She did all three lifts at 140 kg, 150 kg, and 156 kg.
The winner in total was Lo Ying-Yuan from Taiwan on 112-133-245 which was 15 kg lower than Koanda’s winning total points in the last year.
Moving to more serious weight classes, starting with the Men’s 102 kg, as usual, a Chinese athlete won the battle: Liu Huanhua clinched the gold medal with 404 kg in total, 180 kg in Snatch, and 224 kg in C & J. Yeonhak Jang from Korea was a silver medalist being defeated by the leader by 5 kg in totals, and the result of 182-217-399. Unexpectedly, Yauhen Tsikhantsou (AIN) became the bronze medalist with a total of 394 kg.
However, already loved by us Qatari Fares El-Bakh, known as Meso Hassouna, became a silver medal holder in a single exercise of C&J with a result of 218 kg. We hoped that he could manage to get at least bronze and up the podium, considering his superb pre-performance form and high confidence during our interview.
The Men’s 109 kg weight class also impressed us with the contest between Uzbekistani lifters Akbar Djuraev and Ruslan Nurudinov.
What about the super heavyweight division of 109+ kg, the outcomes are already evident: Lasha Talakhadze secured his title and won his seventh great win. A strongman from Georgia lifted unbelievable 473 kg in total by leading ahead of Varazdat Lalayan with 460 kg and Gor Minasyan – with 459 kg.
All in all, new records are set, new winners are defined, and big hopes are laid for young and strong weightlifters. So, next time we’ll meet some of them at the following qualifying competition, IWF Grand Prix II which will be held in Qatar in December.
Author: Tanya Shaiko
News Editor, Olympic Lifting Enthusiast
Best Results: Snatch – 61 kg,
C&J – 78 kg
I’m Tanya, and I love lifting weights. 6 years ago, I picked up Olympic weightlifting and fitness. Weightlifting is a unique sport because it’s just you against the bar. There are no teammates to help you out; it’s all on you.
I’m also passionate about helping other women achieve their fitness goals. That’s why I started my blog and write some products reviews. I want to show other women that they can do anything they set their mind to!