images of Weightlifting

Olympic Sports


The aim of Weightlifting is simple: to lift more than anyone else. The result is pure sporting theatre and a real spectator favourite.


The forerunner of Weightlifting is the lifting of heavy stones in contests of strength, which was practised throughout the ancient world. Weightlifting as an organised sport also has a long history and was included in the programme at the very first modern Olympic Games, Athens 1896.

The events at Athens 1896 and St. Louis 1904 used different techniques to today, while all lifters competed in the same events regardless of their individual body weights. Athletes were first grouped by body weight at Antwerp 1920, with two lifting techniques standardised: the ‘snatch’ and the ‘clean and jerk’. Women's events were first included at the Sydney 2000 Games.

In the snatch, the bar is lifted from the floor to above the head in one movement. By contrast, the clean and jerk is a two-stage action – the bar is first brought up to the chest before being jerked over the head.

Athletes compete by performing each of these lifts three times and adding together the highest weight lifted in each.
International Federation:International Weightlifting Federation(Open in a new window)

Event Programme

  • 48 kg (Women)
  • 53 kg (Women)
  • 58 kg (Women)
  • 63 kg (Women)
  • 69 kg (Women)
  • 75 kg (Women)
  • + 75 kg (Women)

Seven weight categories for Men's events to be confirmed


Force of body and mind

Weightlifting player

Weightlifting may seem a simple sport but it demands supreme physical and mental control. Lifting more than twice your bodyweight from the floor to above your head is not just about mobilising every muscle in the body. To achieve this feat of explosive power requires absolute focus, superb technique and a fighting spirit.

Athletes must attempt a lift within one minute of their name being called. This is increased to two minutes where successive lifts are to be attempted. The need to prepare the body and mind in such a short time can challenge the athlete's rhythm and ability to remain calm yet energised.

In the snatch, the weight is lifted in one continuous motion and the lifter stands motionless, arms and legs extended, with feet in line. In the clean and jerk the lifter first lifts the weight on to the chest (clean), then extends the arms and legs, with feet once more in line (jerk). When the barbell is lifted, the elbows must not be bent and there should be no imbalance in the extension of the left and right arms.

If the barbell is dropped before a signal to do so, the lift is considered a fail. The judges will also penalise illegal or incorrect technique, failure to start a lift within the allocated time or touching the mat with any part of the body other than the soles of the feet.

Each lifter is allowed three attempts at the snatch and three attempts at the clean and jerk. Their best lift in each is combined to determine their overall result. If an athlete fails to make a valid lift with any of their three attempts in the snatch, they are eliminated.

When a tie occurs, the athlete with the lower bodyweight is declared the winner.


Powering to the podium

Weightlifting player

There were eight weight classes for men and seven for women at the Rio 2016 Games. At Tokyo 2020 there will be seven classes each.

Throughout Olympic history, the People's Republic of China and the former Soviet Union have been most successful in Weightlifting. China has taken four successive golds in the men's 69 kilogram class from Athens 2004 through to Rio 2016, while that country's women won gold in 14 of the 28 events held across the four Games. At Rio 2016 they were champions in three of the seven weight classes.

Athletes from other Asian countries, as well as those from Eastern and Central Europe, are always contenders. At the Rio 2016 Games and aged just 22, Lasha Talakhadze (Georgia) completed a snatch of 215kg and a clean and jerk of 258kg in the men's heaviest weight class (105kg) to take the gold medal with a total of 473kg, a new world record.

Among Thailand's successful female weightlifters at Rio 2016, Sopita Tanasan won the 48kg class gold medal at her first ever Olympic Games.



At the Athens 1896 Games, a gold medal was awarded for a Weightlifting event that was then discontinued. What was that event?


A:The one-handed lift.
The barbell was lifted one-handed in a style similar to the snatch of today. Launceston Elliot of Great Britain recorded an impressive 71kg.

Competition Venues

  • Tokyo International Forum

Olympic Sports

Paralympic Sports