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.
"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
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.