Feature | Weightlifting

Olympic weightlifting at Tokyo 2020: Top five things to know

Here is your guide to weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, including top athletes, venue information, Games schedule, and more!

By Evelyn Watta ·

Weightlifting at the Olympics has truly evolved.

It has featured at every Olympic Games bar three (1900, 1908, 1912) since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

But it was not until Sydney 2000 that the women’s competition was introduced.

Weightlifting tests athletes' explosive strength across seven weight classes for both men and women.

Below, we take a look at the athletes expected to light up the Tokyo 2020 programme in 2021, the competition schedule, and some Olympic history in our top five things to know about Olympic weightlifting.

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Top Olympic weightlifters at Tokyo 2020

The top lists for both the men and women heading to Tokyo are dominated by Asians and Europeans, a possible indication of the top challengers for 2020 Olympic medals.

Rio 2016 gold medallist Lasha Talakhadze, one of the most prolific lifters in the sport is definitely one to watch out for in Tokyo.

The three-time IWF Male Lifter of the Year has set several world records in his career and is considered one of the best super-heavyweight lifters of all-time.

Apart from the Georgian, there is a host of Chinese lifters led by another Olympic champion Shi Zhiyong (73 kg) who are in record shape heading to Tokyo.

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There is also four-time world junior champion Clarence Cummings Jr. of the USA who has had a steady progression and is tipped to make the podium.

The other strong Chinese favourites are Tian Tao, a world champion and silver medallist from Rio in the 96 kg, 2016 Olympian Chen Lijun who leads the 67 kg Olympic qualification standings, the powerful clean and jerker Li Fabin in the 61 kg, and Li Dayin (81 kg).

If they qualify, Li Fabin and Li Dayin would be making their debut at the Olympic Games after dominating continental and World championships.

North Korea's Om Yun Chol, a gold medallist from London 2012, is moving up from the now-retired 56 kg class to 61 kg.

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The remarkable strength in Chinese depth also extends to the women.

Olympic and world champion Deng Wei has been in sensational form as she prepares to compete in the 64kg in Tokyo, where she will come up against Romania’s Loredana Toma, the three-time European champion.

After winning the World and Asian titles in 2019, fast-rising super-heavyweight Li Wenwen, 20, is eyeing her biggest career win in Tokyo.

The talented Chinese pair of Zhang Wanqiong and Liao Qiuyun should also have an interesting contest in the 55 kg against an experienced field led by Filipino superstar Hidilyn Diaz, the Rio 2016 silver medallist.

Also worth keeping an eye on are North Korea’s double Olympic champion Rim Jong Sim and Lidia Valentin Perez of Spain who will be competing at her fourth Olympics. Perez aims to add on to her silver, gold, and bronze from the last three editions of the Games.

After solid performances at the last Worlds in Thailand, Americans Katherine Nye and Mattie Rogers have shown their potential to power to the podium of the 71 kg.

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Olympic weightlifting schedule at Tokyo 2020

The competition will take place from 24 July – 4 August 2021.

All times are in Japan Standard Time (UTC +9 hours).

Date: Sat 24 July

Time: 9:50 - 12:00

  • Women's 49 kg Group B

Time: Sat 24 July 13:50 - 16:00

  • Women's 49 kg Group A
  • Women's 49 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Sun 25 July

Time: 11:50 - 14:00

  • Men's 61 kg Group B and Men's 67 kg Group B

Time: 15:50 - 18:00

  • Men's 61 kg Group A
  • Men's 61 kg Victory Ceremony

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Men's 67 kg Group A
  • Men's 67 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Mon 26 July

Time: 13:50 - 16:00

  • Women's 55 kg Group B

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Women's 55 kg Group A
  • Women's 55 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Tue 27 July

Time: 11:50 - 14:00

  • Women's 59 kg Group B and Women's 64 kg Group B

Time: 15:50 - 18:00

  • Women's 59 kg Group A
  • Women's 59 kg Victory Ceremony

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Women's 64 kg Group A
  • Women's 64 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Wed 28 July

Time: 13:50 - 16:00

  • Men's 73 kg Group B

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Men's 73 kg Group A
  • Men's 73 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Sat 31 July

Time: 11:50 - 14:00

  • Men's 81 kg Group B and Men's 96 kg Group B

Time: 15:50 - 18:00

  • Men's 81 kg Group A
  • Men's 81 kg Victory Ceremony

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Men's 96 kg Group A
  • Men's 96 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Sun 1 Aug.

Time: 13:50 - 16:00

  • Women's 76 kg Group B

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Women's 76 kg Group A
  • Women's 76 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Mon 2 Aug.

Time: 11:50 - 14:00

  • Women's 87 kg Group B and Women's +87 kg Group B

Time: 15:50 - 18:00

  • Women's 87 kg Group A
  • Women's 87 kg Victory Ceremony

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Women's +87 kg Group A
  • Women's +87 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Tue 3 Aug.

Time: 13:50 - 16:00

  • Men's 109 kg Group B

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Men's 109 kg Group A
  • Men's 109 kg Victory Ceremony

Date: Wed 4 Aug.

Time: 13:50 - 16:00

  • Men's +109 kg Group B

Time: 19:50 - 22:00

  • Men's +109 kg Group A
  • Men's +109 kg Victory Ceremony

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Olympic weightlifting venue at Tokyo 2020

Weightlifting will be hosted at the Tokyo International Forum, a multi-purpose exhibition centre where one of the halls will be repurposed for competition.

Olympic weightlifting competition format at Tokyo 2020

Athletes compete in the ‘snatch’ and ‘clean and jerk’ rounds.

They have three attempts in each round, with their highest weight successfully lifted in each round totalled.

There are seven weightlifting competition classes each for men and women.

The men’s weight classes are 61 kg, 67 kg, 73 kg, 81 kg, 96 kg, 109 kg and over 109 kg, while the women compete in 49 kg, 55 kg, 59 kg, 64 kg, 76 kg, 87 kg and above 87 kg.

Olympic weightlifting history

The sport boasts of some of the strongest men and women at the Olympic Games.

Naim Suleymanoglu aka ‘The Pocket Hercules’, is undoubtedly the sport's top Olympian.

He was born to Turkish parents living in Bulgaria and was the first weightlifter to claim gold at three different Olympic Games.

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Another great lifter is Pyrros Dimas, the most decorated Greek athlete in the Olympics. He won three Olympic titles and signed off with a bronze in his fourth Games while injured.

Weightlifting history cannot be complete without mentioning Akakios Kakiasvilis, the Greek-Georgian Olympic champion from Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Games.

The other standout names include Iran’s Hossein Reza Zadeh, the two-time gold medallist, Tara Nott, the first U.S. female weightlifter ever to win Olympic gold and Colombia’s Olympic champions Oscar Figueroa and María Isabel Urrutia.

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