IWFInternational Weightlifting Federation

Search the site for:


Origin of Weightlifting:

Weightlifting: starting with the basics

As a basic athletic activity and a natural means to measure strength and power, the lifting of weights was present in both the ancient Egyptian and Greek societies. Boosting its international importance chiefly in the 19th Century, weightlifting was among those few sports (alongside athletics, swimming, gymnastics, fencing, wrestling, shooting and cycling) which featured already on the programme of the first Modern Olympic Games, in 1896, Athens. The first World Championships in this sport, however, had been staged five years earlier: on 28th March 1891, in London, with 7 athletes representing 6 countries.

Weightlifting is thus the only sport whose history in world-wide competitions spans across three centuries: from 1891 through the 20th Century until our days, in 2001.

The power-relations have undergone major changes over the past decades. At the beginning of the century, Austria, Germany and France used to be the most successful nations. Later on, Egypt, then the United States of America reigned. In the 1950s and the following three decades the Soviet Union's weightlifters played the protagonists' role - with Bulgaria becoming a main challenger. Since the mid-'90s, however, Turkey, Greece and China have catapulted to the lead. The most recent word power in weightlifting is Greece among the men. In the women's field, China has been dominant since the very beginning, with other Asian countries emerging as strong contenders to the champion titles. On the overall, however, Europe is the most powerful continent in competitions of both genders.

Weightlifting Today:

"I still love you - even if you fail me sometimes…"

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) today comprises 167 affiliated nations. Approximately ten thousand weightlifters participate annually in official competitions; weight training, however, is an indispensable tool for strength development for all sports and billions of people all over the world have workouts with the barbell for the sake of fitness. Entry figures of World Championships have increased year by year. The participation record was registered at the 1999 World Championships in Athens, Greece, with altogether 660 athletes of 88 countries taking part.

Including the Olympic Games 2000 in Sydney, the men have competed in 21 Olympic Games, 70 World Championships; the junior men in 27 Junior World Championships. The women already had their first Olympic appearance in Sydney 2000 and took part in 13 senior and 7 Junior World Championships.

The 8,000th medal in weightlifting will be issued at the 2001 World Championships - to a woman in the 63 kg category - in Antalya, Turkey.

Weightlifting at the Olympic Games:

Since 1896, weightlifting featured on 20 Olympic Games. At the sport’s 21st Olympic appearance in Sydney, the programme will for the first time include the women competitors as well, in addition to the men. The most successful Olympic weightlifter of all times is Turkish Naim Süleymanoglu, who won three Olympic Champion titles (1988, 1992, 1996). Hungarian Imre Földi is a record holder being 5-times Olympian (1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976), while American Norbert Schemansky is the only one who won medals in four Games: a silver in 1948, gold in 1952, bronze in 1960 and 1964.

Copyright © 2001 International Weightlifting Federation