Weightlifting, the ultimate test of raw physical strength, has a long, illustrious history in countries such as Greece and Egypt. However, its development as a sport only took place at the end of the 19th Century, principally in Europe.
The first international federation for the sport was established in Austria, in 1890. Six years later, Weightlifting was part of the first edition of the Olympic Games of the Modern Era, in Athens, Greece, as part of the Gymnastics programme.
The sport was removed from the Olympic programme at the Paris 1900 Games, but returned to the St. Louis 1904 Games as part of the Athletics competition. It was excluded, once again from London 1908 and Stockholm 1912, but it was back for good from Antwerp 1920 onwards, although only for men.
Women’s Weightlifting was included at Sydney 2000. The sport has 15 categories: eight for men and seven for women, separated according to each athlete’s weight.
The competition take place on a platform measuring 4 x 4 metres, with and a maximum height of 15 centimetres. The discs are secured to the bar with two steel collars, each weighing 2.5 kg.
Weightlifting consists of two events: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. In the first, competitors need to lift the bar in one single movement from the platform to the full extent of both arms above the head, while either splitting or bending the legs. After that, they need to keep their balance and hold the bar for up to two seconds, when the judges give the signal to drop it.
The clean and jerk is a composite of two movements. In the clean movement the athlete lifts the barbell from the floor to the shoulders. The jerk sees the lifter raise the bar above their head, keeping the arms and legs outstretched. After three attempts at each lift, the heaviest weights lifted by the athlete in each section are added together to determine the overall results.
Participants have three attempts in each event to lift as much weight as possible. Having successfully lifted a weight on the bar, the minimum increase must be 2 kilos between the first and second attempts, and at least 1 kg between the second and third.
The winner is the person who lifts the biggest total, the sum of the best attempts in the snatch and clean and jerk. If there is a tie, the athlete who weighs the least wins. If this is not sufficient to select a winner, the winner is the person who attained the best score first.