All you need to know about the World Weightlifting Championships

Expect fireworks in Pattaya, Thailand as the best lifters in the world aim for gold and qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Catch it all on Olympic Channel.

9 min By Rory Jiwani
Deng Wei THUMB crop

A record 606 athletes from 100 countries will compete at the 2019 IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Pattaya, Thailand from 18-27 September.

There are three gold medals up for grabs in each weight class - one in the snatch, one in the clean and jerk, and one for the total weight lifted.

This is a significant qualifying event for Tokyo 2020 with the points going towards the Olympic ranking list.

And you can see all the medals decided live on Olympic Channel (geo-restrictions may apply).

Thirteen out of the 14 competitors in each weight class at Tokyo 2020 will be determined by the rankings on 30 April 2020 with the top eight qualifying automatically subject to a maximum of one athlete per country.

After those eight, the next best lifter in the rankings from each of the five continents will go the Games.

The one remaining spot in each competition will go to either hosts Japan or a nation as decided by the Tripartite Commission which seeks to increase universality within the Games.

Due to eight Thai lifters - including Rio 2016 gold medallists Sopita Tanasan and Sukanya Srisurat - failing drug tests at last year's World Championships in Turkmenistan, the host country will not be represented.

Thailand's weightlifting federation pre-empted a ban from the IWF by banning its own athletes from the Worlds and Tokyo 2020.

Talakhadze bids for fourth straight crown

Georgia's Lasha Talakhadze has been close to unbeatable in the men's super-heavyweight division since 2015 when he clinched his first world title.

The Rio 2016 champion went on to retain his world crowns in 2017 and 2018 and looks a class apart at +109kg in Pattaya.

Olympic silver medallist Gor Minasyan and fellow Armenian lifter Ruben Aleksanyan, fourth in Rio, appear to be his main dangers.

But Talakhadze operating at anywhere close to his best should have enough to win again.

Five men, including Talakhadze, swept golds in Ashgabat last November with only Iran's Rio 2016 gold medalllist Sohrab Moradi missing after dislocating his shoulder in training in July.

North Korea's Om Yun Chol defends his title at 55kg but has his work cut out if he is to be a contender at next year's Games.

Om won +56kg gold at London 2012 and silver at Rio 2016, but the lightest weight in Tokyo will be 61kg.

He is expected to add to his tally of four overall world totals and nine in total in Pattaya, and could challenge his own clean and jerk world record of 162kg.

Eko Yuli Irawan won all three golds at 61kg last year as he claimed his first overall world title.

The Indonesian faces stiff opposition from Chinese pair Qin Fulin and Li Fabin who finished second and third in Ashgabat.

But Irawan's superior clean and jerk gives him a clear advantage over his rivals, and he will try to break his world record in that lift and for the total before focusing on going one better than his silver at Rio 2016.

Shi Zhiyong bids to repeat his hat-trick of golds at 73kg in Pattaya.

The Chinese has made a successful rise in the weights since taking 69kg gold at Rio 2016, and showed he was as good as ever with snatch and total world records in April's Asian Championships.

Ismayilov faces Chinese challenge at 67kg

Which Daniyar Ismayilov will we see in Pattaya?

This is the 27-year-old's first global competition since winning silver at Rio 2016.

He missed the 2017 World Championships due to Turkey's doping ban and refused to compete at last year's event for fear of arrest having switched nationality from Turkmenistan in 2014.

After winning at last year's Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Ismaylov was disciplined for "unacceptable behaviour" after being arrested, and later released without charge, on a late night out.

In April's European Championships in Batumi, Georgia, he led after the snatch but failed to register a mark in the clean and jerk.

France's Bernardin Matam capitalised on his failure to take his second European title.

Failing to score any qualification points at the 2018 Worlds and the Europeans means Ismayilov cannot qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, so this is his biggest event for two years.

Up against him are three formidable Chinese lifters including defending champion Chen Lijun and last year's runner-up Huang Minhao.

Huang showed he is in great form at July's Tokyo test event, setting a new snatch world record of 155kg.

Feng Ludong completes the Chinese trio.

Huang Minhao sets a new snatch world record at the Tokyo 2020 test event on 6 July 2019
Huang Minhao sets a new snatch world record at the Tokyo 2020 test event on 6 July 2019

Tian the man to beat at 96kg

With Moradi absent, Tian Tao has the opportunity to win his first global title after taking 85kg silver at Rio 2016 and silver again at 96kg in last year's World Championships.

The man who beat him in Rio, Kianoush Rostami, stands in his way again although he has not been nearly as successful as his Chinese rival in climbing the weight classes.

Another potential contender is Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin who was stripped of gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 for doping offences.

But Tian set a new clean and jerk world record of 231kg at July's Tokyo 2020 test event, and the 25-year-old looks in great shape for the test ahead.

Iranian women to make Worlds debut

On Friday, 20 September Poupak Basami will make history by becoming the first Iranian woman to compete at the World Weightlifting Championships in the 55kg division.

While the nation has been a powerhouse in men's competition for several years, it was not until 2017 that the Iranian Weightlifting Federation allowed women to compete officially.

Its president, Ali Moradi, told the IWF that the country's female lifters should take inspiration from Sara Ahmed who became Egypt's first female Olympic medallist in the 69kg category at Rio 2016.

Basami was the first Iranian woman to take part in a major senior event, lifting at April's Asian Championships in Ningbo, China.

Basami's hijab attracted plenty of attention and she admitted she found it somewhat offputting.

Speaking to Shahrand Daily, she said, "I completely realised how much they were focused on me, and this increased my stress. When I was getting ready for the competition, all the cameras were zooming in on me and waiting for me to compete as a weightlifter with hijab."

She managed to set a new total best of 143kg, finishing in 12th place.

The 27-year-old is one of a five-strong women's team for Iran with Abrisham Arjomandkhah (64kg), Elham Bajalani (71kg), Seyedehelham Hosseini (76kg) and Parisa Jahanfekrian (87kg) also competing.

While none will be contending for medals, this is just the start.

China's women expected to rule again

China has dominated since the first Women's World Championships in 1987, winning 374 (58%) out of 645 titles.

Rio 2016 63kg gold medallist Deng Wei is their most successful current lifter with 11 world titles including a clean sweep of the 64kg class last November in Ashgabat.

She is a strong favourite to make it 14 golds after setting world records in the snatch, clean and jerk, and overall to take the Asian title in April.

Rim Un Sim of DPR Korea, runner-up last year in Turkmenistan, looks set to be her nearest challenger again.

The 76kg class could be the highlight of the event with last year's 71kg champion Zhang Wangli up against Rim's sister, double Olympic gold medallist Rim Jong Sim.

The pair met in the Asian Championships with Rim setting a new snatch world record and breaking Zhang's total world best to take victory.

There will be little to choose between them again with 26-year-old Rim seeking her first overall world title.

Wang Zhouyu pipped Rim to 76kg gold last year but she has gone up two weight divisions to 87kg for this event with 81kg not an Olympic class.

The European stars

Tatiana Kashirina is the greatest female lifter in World Championship history with 15 golds from a total of 21 medals including five overall crowns.

She was involved in an epic battle at London 2012 in the +75kg class, setting a new snatch world record and then a combined world best which was beaten by China's Zhou Lulu.

Kashirina has dominated since, winning three consecutive overall world titles from 2013 to 2015 but missed Rio 2016 with Russian lifters banned from the Games.

Russia were also barred from the 2017 World Championships, but Kashirina beat reigning Olympic champion Meng Suping to reclaim her title last year in Ashgabat.

At just 28, Kashirina has the potential to rule the super-heavyweight (now +87kg) division for years to come, but Meng's fellow Chinese Li Wenwen has emerged as a real threat.

After beating Meng to take the Asian title and setting a new snatch world record of 147kg in the process, Li beat Kashirina in the Tokyo 2020 test event at the Tokyo International Forum in July.

Li Wenwen beats Tatiana Kashirina in Tokyo 2020 test event

Three medals in Pattaya would see Kashirina go joint-second on the all-time medal list on 24 with Colombia's Sydney 2000 champion Maria Isabel Urrutia and Chen Shu-Chih of Chinese Taipei with the record of 33 held by Hungary's Maria Takacs out of reach for now.

New Zealand's transgender lifter Laurel Hubbard, silver medallist in 2015, is also in the field along with the woman who beat her in Anaheim, Rio bronze medallist Sarah Robles of the United States.

Lidia Valentin defends her 81kg title in Thailand and has a great chance of adding to her tally of five world titles.

Her conqueror in this year's European Championships and runner-up at the 2018 Worlds - Darya Naumava of Belarus - has dropped down to 76kg.

That leaves Venezuela's Dayana Chirinos as perhaps her biggest threat with Chinese and North Korean lifters avoiding the non-Olympic weight class.

Like all Spaniards, Valentin enjoyed seeing her countrymen claim a second FIBA Basketball World Cup last weekend.

But the 34-year-old has been building towards Pattaya for a long time, and hopes to join La Roja in repeating as champion of the world.

Turkey will be hoping Saziye Erdogan can become just the country's second female overall world champion after Athens 2004 gold medallist Nurcan Taylan in 2010.

Competing in the lightest weight category of 45kg, the 27-year-old took the European title in Georgia in April.

With last year's victor Thunya Sakcharoen out due to Thailand's doping suspension, Erdogan's main rival for gold looks to be Vietnam's 2015 silver medallist Vuong Thi Huyen.

Full streaming schedule for the World Weightlifting Championships (geo-restrictions may apply):

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