Weightlifting at the 2012 Olympic Games was held at the ExCeL London over July 28-August 7, featuring 260 athletes who displayed their strength for the judges.
Weightlifting consists of two movements: the snatch and the clean and jerk. Athletes compete in categories according to their body weight. The goal is to execute a proper lift with as heavy as possible. Weightlifters compete in eight weight categories for men and seven for women on a 4m square platform before a panel of three judges. If a lift is successful, the lifter must add at least 2.5kg for the next attempt. If the first or second attempt is unsuccessful, the lifter may try the same weight again.
The lifter is allowed one minute to complete a lift after his or her name is called if they follow another lifter or two minutes if they follow themselves. Each lifter is allowed three attempts at the snatch and three attempts at the clean and jerk, and their best lift in each discipline counts towards their total. When a tie occurs, the athlete with the lower bodyweight is declared the winner. If two athletes lift the same total weight and have the same bodyweight, the winner is the athlete who lifted the total weight first.
According to International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) rules, in competitions the athlete’s performances in both movements are put together to determine the final placement.
Athletes are separated into categories according to their body weight. The body weight categories are as follows: men – up to 56kg, 62kg, 69kg, 77kg, 85kg, 94kg, 105kg, +105kg; women – 48kg, 53kg, 58kg, 63kg, 69kg, 75kg, +75kg.
The snatch is the quicker of the two lifts and requires a great deal of speed, co-ordination and strength. The lift is performed by taking a wide grip on the bar and, in one motion, the bar is lifted to an overhead position with the arms fully extended. When the bar reaches a height slightly below the chest the athlete will either drop down into a full squat position or split the legs front and back while going under the bar. Using these methods allows the weightlifter to achieve heavier lifts than if they had to pull the weight to their full height. However, the lift must be performed very quickly and accurately to ensure that the athlete is directly under the bar before gravity takes over. The weightlifter then stands erect and the referees will judge the lift as successful when the lifter’s feet are in line and the lifter has the bar under control. The competitor is then directed to return the weight to the platform.
The Clean and Jerk
The clean and jerk is a two-stage lift and weightlifters can achieve heavier weights in this lift. It also requires great speed and co-ordination to accomplish this lift. The first part is the ‘clean’ in which the goal is to get the weight to the shoulders. A grip that is about shoulder width is used, but the athlete will again employ the squat to assist in lifting more weight. After fixing the bar on the shoulders the lifter will rise to a standing position. The competitor then bends the legs and with great force drives the weight to fully extended arms’ length. This portion of the lift is called the ‘jerk’. Again, to allow heavier weights to be lifted, a split of the legs is used to let the lifter move under the bar. As in the snatch, the athlete stands with the weight supported overhead, the referees judge the lift and signal for the bar to be put down after the lifter’s feet are in line and the bar is under control.