I’ve been overdosing on olympic weightlifting recently, although admittedly, more on the observing, rather than actual doing side. If I can sort out my mobility issues to a satisfactory level, I would love to try to get more proficient at the snatch and clean and jerk, but for the moment my training focus is purely on the slow lifts, deadlift, squat and press.
So my own personal efforts have been restricted to watching the recent Weightlifting World Championships in Turkey, the CrossFit USAW Open and the Commonwealth Games.
Eurosport televised the entire World Championships and I managed to catch the 94, 105 and 105+kgs men’s categories.
Evgeny Chigishev won the snatch for the 105+ category with a lift of 210kgs. The angle below does not really justify how close he was to losing it. He made an amazing recovery from the bottom of the overhead squat when his right foot falls forward. Not so easy when you have 210kgs over your head!
That lift was enough to take the title in the snatch, but unfortunately Chigishev was unable to clean and jerk (which is performed after the snatch in competition) due to a leg injury.
Matthias Steiner went on to win the clean and jerk with 246kgs, although it was Iranian lifter Behdad Salimi who took the overall title with a total of 453kgs.
Thanks to a quite remarkable story, Steiner has become a well known name in Germany since the Beijing Olympics where he won the gold medal in the 105+ category.
Originally from Austria, Steiner moved to Germany after a dispute with his coach at the 2005 European Championships. Married to a German woman, Steiner decided to apply for citizenship and compete for his adopted country, a decision which would keep him out of international competition for three years due to IWF rules.
If the exile from competition was not hard enough, Steiner suffered further tragedy in July 2007 when his wife was killed in a car crash. Despite the loss, Steiner returned to international competition in 2008 and won the silver medal at the European Championships that year.
Steiner began his campaign for Olympic gold in the snatch and his lift of 203kgs left him in 4th place going into the clean and jerk. Chigishev, the favourite for the title, led the pace with 250kgs in the clean and jerk. That left Steiner with a final chance to win the gold medal, but to do that he would need to clean and jerk 258kgs, a full 12kgs better than his personal best of 246kgs.
With gold on the line, Steiner promptly stepped up and nailed the lift and a huge personal record. Check out the lift below and his reaction afterwards, powerful stuff.
As well as the World Champs, I took great interest in watching the USAW CrossFit Open (highlights here) which took place at the beginning of October. This was a chance for both competitive crossfitters and weightlifters to compete in a hybrid of the two sports. As well as the traditional snatch and clean and jerk, a third event was added, a 10 minute amrap of 6 squat cleans, 12 pull-ups and 24 double unders.
It was very interesting to see the performances of the top weightlifters vs the top crossfitters. Unsurprisingly, both excelled in their own disciplines and did not do terribly well in the other.
A good example was US national team weight lifter Chad Vaughn. He competed in the 85kg division and posted lifts of 141kg in the snatch and 187kg in the clean and jerk. To put that into perspective, that gave him the highest total of any competitor in all weight divisions, 313kgs. His closest rival was Josh Everett who posted a total of 267kgs. And just to put that in further perspective, Vaughn’s best ever total is 347kgs, so he was taking it pretty easy.
Chris Spealler proved once again that he is an absolute beast. He posted the highest overall total of the day (559 points), which was a combination of the total in the lifts and score of the amrap. Unsurprisingly, he blew everyone away in the CrossFit worked where he finsihed with 359 reps.
His lifting was also impressive in the 62kg category and he completed a 91kg snatch and 109kg clean and jerk for a total of 200kgs. In that weight class, that total would be good enough to earn Spealler a top eight ranking in the entire USA!
Last, although definitely not least, I came across British lifter Zoe Smith the other day. I haven’t been following the Commonwealth Games too closely, but Smith caught my attention as a bronze medal winner in the 56kg class.
She is only 16 but her total of 188kgs (85kg snatch, 103kg clean and jerk) won her a bronze medal. Weight lifting is a tiny sport in the UK, so I really hope that Zoe can help bring some media exposure, and maybe even a medal at the London Olympics.
Here is a good story on Zoe and her background.