From China’s mighty show of strength clinching seven gold medals, to Hidilyn Diaz’s historic Olympic title, we reflect on weightlifting’s most memorable moments at Tokyo 2020, a medal recap, look forward to Paris 2024.
Four world records headlined an outstanding weightlifting event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
China’s Shi Zhiyong set the first world record in the 73kg class to win his second Olympic gold medal.
Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia wrapped up competition in style, breaking three world records as he heaved to his second Olympic title.
Then there was Hidilyn Diaz’s victory in the 55kg class, the first Olympic gold medal ever for the Philippines.
And let's not forget the standout moments for American weightlifters.
Katherine Nye posted the best U.S. Weightlifting results an Olympic Games for 21 years with her silver in the 76kg class, while compatriot Sarah Robles became the first American woman to win two Olympic weightlifting medals.
Below, we look back at the most memorable moments, a recap of the medal winners from 24 different nations, and highlight who to look out for at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
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Top 5 weightlifting moments at Tokyo 2020
Take a look back at the most memorable lifts from Japan:
1- China’s star moment: Shi Zhiyong
Winning a second Olympic gold medal was satisfying for Shi in the 73kg division, but the Chinese was more excited to have bettered his own world record by a kilogram.
“I want myself to break the record in the Olympics... So, if I didn’t make to break my own record, just a gold medal, I would feel regret,” he said after.
He lifted a total of 364kg - a colossal weight that none of the competitors even came close to. Silver medallist Julio Mayora of Venezuela's overall lift was 19kg less.
Shi’s gold was one of the eight medals China won in weightlifting in Tokyo, seven of them gold.
2- Perfect six-of-six for Lasha Talakhadze
The weightlifting competition ended on the same note as it had begun with a world record lift.
The question wasn’t over who was going to win the men’s super-heavyweight for over 109kg athletes, but it was mainly by how much would Talakhadze win?
The giant from Georgia snatched 208kg, which was four kilos above the Olympic standard. His next lift of 215kg bettered the Olympic record before rounding off with a snatch of 223kg - a new world record.
The 27-year-old’s clean and jerk in the first round was an Olympic record of 486kg. His second attempt of 255kg improved his Olympic record in the clean and jerk and total of 478kg. His final lift of 265kg concluded his perfect performance in Tokyo.
Talakhadze’s world record of 488kg total was a whopping 47kg clear off the rest of the field.
3- A first for the Philippines in Hidilyn Diaz
Hidilyn Diaz won the women's 55kg class to clinch the Philippines's historic maiden Olympic title. The Asian nation of 108 million people has been sending athletes to the Olympics since 1924.
Diaz, competing in her fourth Olympics, was tied for second after the snatch.
The 31-year-old achieved an Olympic record and the gold medal after a clean & jerk of 127kg, and a total of 224kg.
4- Barrera makes history for Ecuador
Neisi Patricia Dajomes Barrera became the first Ecuadorian woman to win an Olympic medal with gold in the 76kg.
Wearing her usual colourful hair band, she lifted 145kg in her third clean and jerk attempt. That lift gave her total of 263kg, the best performance of the class.
Barrera is the third Ecuadorian to win an Olympic gold medal.
The other gold medallists from the south American nation are cyclist Richard Carapaz, and Jefferson Perez who won the 20km race walk at Atlanta 1996.
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5- American stars: Katherine Nye and Sarah Robles
Katherine Nye’s silver medal in Tokyo was the best performance on the Olympic stage by an American weightlifter since 2000, when Cara Nott-Cunningham clinched gold in Sydney.
Nye also rewrote American records in the 76kg in the snatch of 111kg and the clean and jerk (138kg), for a total of 249kg.
Sarah Robles earned a place in history as the only American woman to earn two Olympic weightlifting medals.
She finished third in the over 87kg class after a total of 282kg, adding to the bronze she won at Rio 2016.
One last look
There were plenty of standout moments from the lifting podium at the Tokyo International Forum.
Fares Elbakh won Qatar’s first Olympic gold medal in weightlifting, in the men’s 96kg. The 23-year-old shattered two Games records in the clean and jerk (225kg) and total lift (402kg).
Indonesia’s Rahmat Erwin Abdullah earned a rare bronze from the B competition of the men’s 73kg class. Usually lifters in the B session lift lower weight entries, but his 342 kg matched the Olympic record and was ranked third best overall.
Tokyo also marked the last Games for four-time Olympian Valentina Perez, as she announced her retirement from the sport.
The 36-year-old Spanish legend sealed gold at London 2012, after silver at Beijing 2008, and added bronze at Rio 2016.
Finally, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand became the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Olympic Games in a different gender category from the one they were assigned at birth.
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China is expected to dominate competition again at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, while North Korea's powerful lifters - who missed Tokyo 2020 - should also be on display.
How much more can Lasha Talakhadze lift?
After 485kg, he is surely now eying up the 500kg mark…
“I will do everything in order to set the nearest margin at least to that limit," he said.
There bright prospects for Paris for American female weightlifters too...
When and where to watch weightlifting replays on Olympics.com
We've got you covered. Check out all the action right here.
When do the weightlifters compete next?
The World Championships in Lima, Peru at yet to be confirmed dates in November 2021.
Full medals list in weightlifting at Tokyo 2020
Gold - Li Fabin (CHN)
Silver - Irawan Eko Yuli (INA)
Bronze - Son Igor (KAZ)
Gold - Chen Lijun (CHN)
Silver - Luis Javier Mosquera (COL)
Bronze: Mirko Zanni (ITA)
Gold - Shi Zhiyong (CHN)
Silver - Julio Ruben Mayora (VEN)
Bronze - Rahmat Abdullah (INA)
Gold - Lyu Xiaojun (CHN)
Silver - Zacarias Bonnat (DOM)
Bronze - Antonino Pizzolato (ITA)
Gold - Fares Ibrahim Elbakh (QAT)
Silver - Keydomar Vallenilla (VEN)
Bronze - Anton Plyesnoy (GEO)
Gold - Akbar Djuraev (UZB)
Silver - Simon Martirosyan (ARM)
Bronze - Arturs Plesnieks (LAT)
Gold - Lasha Talakhadze (GEO
Silver - Ali Davoudi (IRI)
Bronze - Man Asaad (SYR)
Gold: Hou Zhihui (CHN)
Silver: Mirabai Chanu Saikhom (IND)
Bronze: Aisah Windy Cantika (INA)
Gold - Hidilyn Diaz (PHI)
Silver - Liao Qiuyun (CHN)
Bronze - Zulfiya Chinshanlo (KAZ)
Gold - Kuo Hsing-Chun (TPE)
Silver - Polina Guryeva (TKM)
Bronze - Ando Mikiko (JPN)
Gold - Maude Charron (CAN)
Silver - Giorgia Bordignon (ITA)
Bronze - Chen Wen-Huei (TPE)
Gold - Neisi Dajomes (ECU)
Silver - Kate Nye (USA)
Bronze - Aremi Fuentes (MEX)
Gold - Wang Zhouyu (CHN)
Silver - Tamara Salazar (ECU)
Bronze - Crismery Santana (DOM)
Gold - Li Wenwen (CHN)
Silver - Emily Jade Campbell (GBR)
Bronze - Sarah Robles (USA)