History Of Weightlifting


Competition to establish who can lift the heaviest weight has been recorded throughout civilization, with the earliest known recordings including those found in Egypt, China and ancient Greece. Today, the modern sport of weightlifting traces its origins to the European competitions of the 19th century.

The first male world champion was crowned in 1891; the weightlifters were not categorized by weight at this time, and a women’s championship did not exist until 1987.

Early Olympic

The first Olympic Games of 1896 included weightlifting in the Field event of the predecessor to today’s track and field or athletics event. During the 1900 Olympic Games, there was no weightlifting event. Weightlifting resumed as an event, again in athletics, in 1904 but was omitted from the Games of 1908 and 1912. These were the last Games until after the First World War. In these early Games, a distinction was drawn between lifting with ‘one hand’ only and lifting with ‘two hands’. The winner of the ‘one hand’ competition in 1896 was Launceston Elliot, while the winner of the ‘two hands’ event was Viggo Jensen of Denmark.

In 1920, weightlifting returned to the Olympics and, for the first time, as an event in its own right. At these Games, which took place in Antwerp, Belgium, fourteen nations competed. The competition lifts were the ‘one hand’ snatch, the ‘one hand’ clean and jerk and the ‘two hands’ clean and jerk. At the next Olympic Games, in Paris, France, in 1924, the ‘two hands’ press and the ‘two hands’ snatch were added to the programme, making a total of five lifts.

In the Olympic Games after 1920, instead of requiring all competitors to compete against each other regardless of size, weight classes were introduced and, by the 1932 Olympic Games, weightlifting was divided into five weight divisions.

The 110 kg division weightlifting winners of the 1980 Olympic Games, held in Moscow.In 1928, the sport dropped the ‘one hand’ exercises altogether leaving only the three remaining exercises: the clean and press, the snatch and the clean and jerk.


Modern Olympic

By 1972, the clean and press was discontinued because athletes started to push with legs and bend backwards instead of strictly pressing the weight overhead, and this left the sole elements of what is today’s modern Olympic weightlifting programme – the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch consists of lifting the barbell from the floor to an overhead position in one fluid motion. It is a very precise lift that can be nullified by a lack of balance of the athlete. The clean and jerk consists of moving the barbell from the floor to overhead in 2 movements: from the floor to the shoulders, and from the shoulders to overhead.