Competition Reports

The 2010 World Weightlifting Championships Part II

The 2010 World Weightlifting Championships Part II

Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Sportivny Press©

The Men

 

“Kono, Davis and Anderson would chew gum.”

During the heyday of American weightlifting in the 1950s, multiple times world and Olympic champions like Tommy Kono, John Davis, and Paul Anderson could be seen on videos from that era chewing gum as they approached the barbell at world and Olympic competitions.

So confident and so cocky, they would pause chewing only during the strain of lifting, then resume chewing as they nonchalantly lowered the weight. They must have appeared to be supermen to the post war Europeans. However, during the 1950s there were basically two teams far ahead of the rest of the world: the USA and the Russians.

It was reported to the IWF congress by a European doctor preceding the 2009 World Championships in Goyang that there was a new performance enhancing substance out of China, undetectable, and, of course, behind the rise of Chinese weightlifting. First of all this was not true because this substance was known to WADA since 2007. Even if it were true, the results of the competitions really do not bear this out.

For instance, two facts should be noted. First, the Chinese have a large number of elite women lifters, i.e., incredible depth. That is why they send a “B” or “C” team to the worlds so that other countries can win medals. And, even some of these “B” lifters take it easy on purpose to let other countries win medals, except at the Olympic Games (see part I of this report on the women).

Secondly, the Chinese do not have anywhere near this depth among the men. That is why they have been sending essentially the same team to the Olympics and World Championships; unlike most of the Chinese women, these guys go all out to win and try to break records.

For example, look at the result data in table 1. LONG and Wu switched positions from 2009. LONG was lucky to make one snatch with 127 kg. Wu improved six kilos, but the winning result of 292 was the same for China, just different lifters made it from 2009 and 2010. Third place in 2009 was 274 kg. In 2010 the rest of the world caught up a little because 280 kg took third place. The Chinese lifters stayed the same, and the rest of the world of the world progressed, but not enough.  

Results of Chinese male entries at various international events.

Athlete/pl/country Wt.Cl. S J WWC S J WWC S J
Competition   NG NG 2009 WWC WWC 2010 WWC WWC
LONG Qinquan/1st /CHN 56 133 169 1st 130 162 2nd 127 161
WU Jingbiao/3rd/CHN 56 133 160 2nd 131 155 1st 132 160
YANG Fan/1st/CHN 62 149 177 3rd 144 170 NE NE NE
DING Jianjun/2nd /CHN 62 146 171 1st 146 170 6th 142 160*
ZHANG Jie CHN 62 NE NE NE NE NE 2nd 141 174
KIM Un Guk/PRK 62           1st 147 173
LIAO Hui/1st 69 163 195 1st 160 186 1st 160 198
Miculescu Ninal/ROM 69     4th 155 173 2nd 157 180
Mirzoyan Arakel 69     2nd 154 180 NE NE NE
LU Xiaojun/2nd 77 170 203 1st 174 204 2nd 170 200
Martirosyan Tigran/ARM 77     2nd 170 200 1st 173 200
SU Dajin/1st 77 165 209 3rd 165 200 160
LU Yong/1st 85 173 203 1st 175 208 5th 170 202
Zielinski Adrian/POL 85     6th 171 201 1st 173 210

       *Injured knee in clean and jerk

LONG looked sluggish in his warm up and did not exude the confidence, the smiling, and the joking between warm up lifts as he did in 2009. WU Jingbiao listened to his MP3 player between warm ups. So, in 2009 as in 2010, the Chinese entries in the 56 kg class were a little like the gum chewing Americans of the 1950s.

 In the 62 kg class last year’s champion with a 316 kg total DING Jianjun (CHN) snatched four kilos less than 2009 then injured his knee and took only one attempt in the clean and jerk with 160 kg.

YANG Fan (CHN) the bronze medalist of 2009 at 314 kg was not entered. YANG’s replacement ZHANG Jie (CHN) won the silver this year with 315 kg. The difference this year was KIM Un Guk (PRK) who made 320 kg. The Chinese results fluctuated in about the same range for two years, whereas the rest of the world moved up with Bilgin’s (TUR) result of 314 kg and the North Korean’s result of 320 kg.

The 2009 World Champion LIAO Hui (CHN) repeated at 69 kg in 2010. Here the Chinese lifter was far ahead with no real challenge even though the second place result of Mirzoyan Arakel (ARM) in 2009 of 334 kg was improved by Romanian Miculescu Ninal’s 337.

There was no real challenge for the LIAO in this class, nothing to affect his concentration on winning the gold medal.

LIAO (CHN) Jerks 198 world record. Charniga photo.

 

The 77 kg class was another matter altogether. Last year’s world champion LU Xiaojun (CHN), who set new world records in the snatch and total, got a lead of 4 kg in the snatch and simply stayed in the lead. This year was different; looking a little slow and over trained, he took the same weights for his first two attempts as last year: 165 and 170. However, instead of taking the same 173 kg Martirosyan (ARM) succeeded with, to pull even and go ahead on bodyweight, he elected to go to 175 for a new world record.

LU came out for this weight looking very confident (chewing gum so to speak) but failed to lift it; so, instead of being ahead by 4 kilos and lighter in bodyweight like last year, he was behind by 3 kg. His 200 kg was good, and he looked to be in a strong position because Martirosyan missed his opener with 200.

But a lack of confidence on the part of the Chinese resulted in him being tactically outmaneuvered. After Martirosyan made his second with 200, LU elected to wait, passing on 203 or 204 kg to move into the lead. Martirosyan missed 205 and LU had no choice; he had to take 206 to win.

He cleaned the weight, but he missed the jerk. His full squat jerk is a precarious movement under the best of conditions, but, under pressure, the slightest deviation in the barbell’s trajectory and the barbell shifts out of position, which is just what happened.

LU Xiaojun (CHN) misses gold medal lift with 206 in squat style jerk. Charniga photo.

 

2010 World champion Martirosyan (ARM) misses first attempt jerk (squat style)

with 200 kg. Charniga photo.

 

Another often overlooked problem with this squat style of jerking, which a Soviet sport scientist called “gymnastics with a barbell,” is that there is a tendency to perform a slower less springy half squat for the jerk portion. LU seemed to have his knees flexed excessively in the starting position which shifts the body’s center of mass forward and the barbell along with it. When he dropped under the weight into a deep squat, the trajectory of the barbell during the descent was slightly forward. As a result LU dropped it in front.  

The other Chinese entry in this class SU Dajin, the bronze medalist from Goyang, missed 197 twice then 198 and failed to total. LU, last year’s world champion who set two world records along the way, placed second. It became readily apparent to the experienced observer that these guys were not invincible; they could be beat with even elementary weightlifting tactics.

It is worth noting that three of the top guys in this class performed the squat style jerk with either a deep squat (LU and SU) or a quarter squat (Martirosyan). They made a combined two of nine attempts.

SU missed the jerk portion with one of his warm up lifts with 180 kg. He jerked 190 kg successfully on his final warm up but strained for some seconds in the low squat position to do so. This is physically draining and also not good for the psyche if the lifter is unsure of the final part of the exercise and is still in the warm up room. So, it was not surprising that SU missed one clean and two jerks on the platform.

The 85 kg class was arguably the best contested class of the entire championships. Ironically the competition was similar to that of the 77 kg class. Last year’s gold medalist LU Yong (CHN) was leading in the snatch by 3 or 4 kilos over the next three places in 2009. In Goyang, LU was able to select conservative weights in the clean and jerk of 206 and 208 kg to maintain his lead.  His confidence level was relatively high.

This year the defending champion got behind Khachtrayan (ARM) by 5 kg, Zielinski (POL) by 3kg, and Yufkin (RUS) by 2 kg in the snatch, plus bodyweight for all three. When Khachatrayan dropped out in the clean and jerk, LU’s chances improved.

However, he was not up to the task. He looked softer and more sluggish than the LU in the previous weight class and his arms looked a little bigger than last year. Instead of opening with 206 kg to take a commanding lead as he did in Goyang, LU opted for 202 kg. The lift was difficult and ultimately would place him only in fifth.

LU Yong (CHN) placed 1st at 2009 WWC in Goyang. Charniga photo.

He decided to wait for his competitors to finish and find out what he needed to win. However, what can only be described as masterful tactics on the part of the Polish coaches and a perfect performance by Adrian Zielinski doomed any chance LU had to repeat as champion.  Zielinski discretely piled on the kilos with 202 and 206, then, after two tactical changes, he reached 210. He made this with little or nothing to spare, i.e., he reached his maximum for this day.

Yufkin then missed 212 kg which was a combination of his choking under the pressure and a weight which was very close to, if not, his limit.

Waiting for his final attempts in the warm up area for the clean and jerk, the look on Zielinski’s face was one of a reserved, self  confident athlete; he was not intimidated in the least while in the midst of fighting with five guys for individual medals.

2010 World champion Adrian Zielinski (POL) with winning 210 kg jerk. Charniga photo.

The Olympic and world champion chose to throw in the towel by passing his final two attempts; he decided to not even fight for a medal. In 2008 he came from behind to beat Rybakau (BLR), but then he was fighting with only one guy, not four. He had no gum chewing in Antalya.

Khachtrayan (ARM) dropped out in this class when he sustained an unfortunate “snatch” injury in the clean and jerk. He shifted his grip to a wide hand spacing after recovering from the squat. And, as he struggled to secure the barbell at arm’s length in a squat style jerk, his elbow dislocated.

Since many of the misconceptions about the jerk seem to be permanently fixed in the heads of many people in the weightlifting community, these words are probably a waste of time. There is no advantage to a wide  hand spacing for the jerk; among other things the danger of injury significantly exceeds that of a “normal” hand spacing for lifting the barbell from the chest.

The squat style of jerking the barbell from the chest is not an efficient method of performing this exercise: force production and balance are not as effective as in the split style.

Three of the top guys in the 77 kg class and one in the 85 kg class employed the squat style of jerk, either with a deep squat or a half squat. Of these twelve potential platform attempts, there were two successes; one lifter bombed out, and one sustained a serious injury.

Goyang’s world champion in the 94 kg class Sedov Vladimir (KAZ) failed to repeat in a strikingly similar manner as the two dethroned Chinese had in the 77 and 85 kg classes, respectively. Last year he made three snatches to finish with a 5 kg lead. So, in the clean and jerk he was able to preserve his lead without the psychological pressure of a tight competition or having to come from behind.

In Antalya, Sedov made a bigger opener with 180 kg, missed his result of 2009 185, then opted to jump and missed 187. Neither lift was close; now behind instead of ahead, his confidence went out the window. He made the same 210 opening weight as last year but was unable to jerk the 217 he succeeded with in 2009.

The two Ivanov’s (Artem UKR and Alexandr RUS) battled it out in the snatch with both making 185. Artem Ivanov very narrowly missed a world record 189 kg. Alexandr Ivanov lifts like the new breed Russian male lifters with a lot of power, without fully utilizing or perhaps unable to fully utilize the potential of elasticity, like some of the past Soviet champions.

Artem Ivanov employed the squat jerk with a normal hand spacing and made all three attempts, but the power he generated lifting the barbell in a quarter knee bend could have been potentially translated into a lifting a bigger weight with the split style of jerking.

Alexandr Ivanov made two good lifts in the clean and jerk up to 218 kg, but similar to the other Ivanov, left some “gas” in the tank. He does not fully scissors his legs in the jerk. The back leg is bent quite a bit and the front foot is not shifted forward very much. He gets away with this on lighter weights, but the 225 would not go. Without a wider split the area of balance in the fore and  aft direction is insufficient to hold such a big weight.

A. IVANOV (RUS) before dropping 225 jerk with shallow split and bent rear leg. Charniga photo.

Sedov (KAZ) missed two jerks when he shifted his hands out to a snatch grip after recovering from the squat. His scissoring of the legs was not very powerful.

By way of contrast, Calancea (ROM) lifted the biggest weight in the clean and jerk with 220 kg by employing a relatively normal hand spacing. He executed a powerful, wider scissoring of the legs, with the back leg almost straight. It was nothing fancy, just classic jerk technique.

Marci Dolega (POL) repeated as champion in the 105 kg class. Last year in Goyang he barely managed 226 kg in the clean and jerk to defeat Dmitry Lapikov (RUS). The Russians did not enter Lapikov this year. He has consistently done better at domestic competitions than international ones (see table).

 

LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS RUSNat/Kazan 07.07.2006 197 227
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS 2006/WWC 06.10.2006 194 220
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS EUROPEAN SEN 22.04.2007 185 217
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS RUSCHPS/105 23.06.2007 193 227
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS RUSCHPS/105 01.12.2007 201 231
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS RUSCHPS 18.05.2008 200 233
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS 2008OG 18.08.2008 190 230
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS 2009 Rus Nat 27.08.2009 195 232
LAPIKOV Dmitry RUS 2009 WWC 29.11.2009 194 222

 

In the place of Lapikov and Konstantinov (RUS, the Russians entered two former world champions Dmitry Klokov and Vladimir Smortchkov. What ensued was a textbook tactical battle between the two Russians and the Pole. All three took modest jumps in the snatch but only Klokov made all three with 185, 190, and 192 to go up 2 kg on Smorchkov and 4 kg on Dolega.

Smortchkov received two red lights for press out on his second snatch with 193. And, even though a repeat with 193 would have put him ahead of Klokov by one kilo plus he was lighter, he elected to jump to 195 which he did not finish.

Smortchkov, and to a lesser extent Klokov, show some of the signs of an aging weightlifter with poor elbow lock and limited shoulder mobility. He made the 193 kg all right but the right elbow unlocked. A poor elbow lock and shoulder mobility has to affect one’s overall confidence; unsure that even if one has the power to lift the weight, one is uncertain that he will be able to secure it overhead. That is what seemed to affect Smortchkov’s half – hearted attempt at 195.

The real tactical battle began in the clean and jerk with both Klokov and Dolega starting at 218 and Smortchkov coming in at 215 kg. Smortchkov’s jerk was a little wobbly with the right arm (the arm which unlocked in the snatch), the obvious weak link. His second with 220 was about the same, but he noticeably widens his hand spacing upon recovery from the squat and, with this wider hand spacing, presses straight up on the bar: two mistakes if there is a problem with arm lock.

Klokov made 223 easier than his 218, but he splits rather shallow in the jerk, i.e., his front foot does not shift forward very far in the split. Smortchkov was called for 224 but went up. Klokov also was called for 224 but he too went up. Smortchkov finally appeared with 225 to tie Klokov and go ahead on bodyweight. He got two reds for what seemed a very slight, marginal press out.

Only the Russian and Dolega were left. Klokov was called for 225 but he jumped. Dolega then appeared with 227 to move ahead of Klokov on bodyweight. He barely squeezed under the bar in the jerk.

The Russians’ tactics were near perfect because even though Dolega had one more attempt, it is highly unlikely he could have made one kilo more than the 227.

However, at the end of the day, great tactics or not, the lifter still has to lift the weight. Klokov cleaned 227 all right, but he jerked in a shallow split.  His front foot did not shift forward very much and down the weight came,  in front.

 

 

Another of Goyang’s champions failed to repeat when AN Yong Kwan (KOR) made a nose dive in total from 445 to 416. Similar to the three dethroned champions in the 77, 85, and 94 kg classes, he got a lower snatch with 191 compared to 198 last year, and from then on it was all downhill.

Yevgeny Chigishev (RUS) was in very good position with a 210 kg snatch and likewise Udachin (UKR) with 205 when both went down with thigh injuries in the clean and jerk.  Scerbathis also looked pretty good in the snatch. He managed to lift 200 kg despite about 3m of bandages on each knee. However, he simply could not complete a jerk and dropped out.

Pains from injuries, new and old, elbows which do not fully lock, and a general loss of mobility prematurely age the weightlifter. The loss of mobility has a negative effect on the speed of movement and the lifter’s endurance. Older muscles, tendons, and ligaments are less extensible; they become a source of what the old Soviet sport scientists called “internal resistance,” i.e., these tissues no longer lengthen easily; consequently they resist the body’s movements.

Salimkordasiabi Behdad (IRI) prepares to jerk his last warm up lift with 225 kg. Charniga photo.

 

The gold medalist Salimkordasiabi Behdad (IRI) was not necessarily the strongest nor had the best technique, but his youth and his elasticity enabled him to out lift the Europeans, which in the final analysis is all that counts.  

General impressions

Only one man and a total of three lifters repeated as world champions in Antalya. The sole dominant lifter of the past three meetings has been LIAO Hui (CHN). The table below does not support the hysterical theory of the European doctor in Goyang that a secret performance enhancing chemical was around. The results of the seven meetings would show some unusual leap in progress. For the most part, many who heard the presentation at the congress last year had forgotten about the doctor’s secret “enhancer;” and, that is the way it should be.

Gold medal results of the past seven World or Olympic competitions.

Class 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
48 210 (TUR) 213 (CHN) 217 (CHN) 214 (CHN) 212 (CHN) 208 (CHN) 214 (TUR)
53 222.5 (THA) 224 (CHN) 226 (CHN) 219 (CHN) 221 (THA) 219 (KAZ) 222 (CHN)
58 237.5 (CHN) 241 (CHN) 237 (CHN) 238 (CHN) 244 (CHN) 239 (CHN) 237 (CHN)
63 242.5 (UKR) 256 (THA) 246 (CHN) 257 (CHN) 241 (PRK) 246 (KAZ) 248 (KAZ)
69 275 (CHN) 275 (RUS) 263 (RUS) 276 (RUS) 286 (CHN) 266 (ARM) 256 (RUS)
75 272.5 (THA) 285 (CHN) 268 (CHN) 286 (CHN) 282 (CHN) 292 (KAZ) 295 (KAZ)
+75 305 (CHN) 300 (KOR) 314 (CHN) 319 (KOR) 326 (KOR) 323 (KOR) 315 (RUS)
56 295 (TUR) 281 (TPE) 280 (CHN) 283 (PRK) 292 (CHN) 292 (CHN) 292 (CHN)
62 325 (CHN) 322 (CHN) 308 (CHN) 315 (CHN) 319 (CHN) 316 (CHN) 320 (PRK)
69 347.5 (CHN) 350 (CHN) 332 (FRA) 347 (CHN) 348 (CHN) 346 (CHN) 358 (CHN)
77 375 (TUR) 361 (CHN) 361 (TUR) 363 (BUL) 366 (KOR) 378 (CHN) 373 (ARM)
85 382.5 (GEO) 386 (KAZ) 383 (BLR) 393 (BLR) 394 (CHN) 383 (CHN) 383 (POL)
94 407.5 (BUL) 401 (AZE) 392 (KAZ) 397 (RUS) 406 (KAZ) 402 (KAZ) 403 (RUS)
105 425 (RUS) 419 (RUS) 415 (POL) 423 (BLR) 436 (BLR) 421 (POL) 415 (POL)
+105 472.5 (IRI) 461 (IRI) 448 (IRI) 442 (LAT) 461 (GER) 445 (KOR) 453 (IRI)

 

This championships had an unusual number of glitches with the equipment.

The barbell company Werksan’s competition platform was too slippery. So, lifters applied resin to the bottom of the shoes, so much so that they began slipping on the accumulation of resin left between each lift. This same brand of competition platform is used at national competitions in the USA. It causes the same problems for these lifters.

The small discs 0.5 to 2 kg supplied for the training hall of some 60 platforms would not fit on the bars. They were useless for training. This was same situation with the competition barbell. It was not fixed for the first day of competition. The small discs which are supposed to be placed against the outside of the collars had to be forced on the very tip of the end of the bar.

The loaders had trouble fixing the collars to the bar, which over time caused quite a few lifts to be performed with the discs sliding and creating an unbalanced barbell. This problem continued to fester until an Egyptian lifter lifted 228 kg overhead and the discs slid off one side. He had to be granted another attempt. One of the female bars stopped turning in the 75 kg class and had to be replaced.

Problems with the equipment.

 

Another company supplied the training platforms. They looked nice but were constructed in two sections. The sections butted together. The seam between the two sections ran down the middle of the platform. Once weights began dropping on the platforms, one side or the other would either rise up or drop down, such that the surface became uneven. One of these platforms, supplied for the warm up room, became unusable for most of the competition.

A situation like this is actually an opportunity for a manufacturer to prove his worth by quickly fixing any problems that arise. But this did not happen.

After the barbell was raised to this height from the first half squat. The lifter lowered it to his chest

then lifted it to arms length and received one white light. Charniga photo.

 

Of Wolves and Dogs:

The fish and the pond

 

Two, not new, but nevertheless obvious developments in the evolution of this sport were in evidence at this year’s championships. One involves the metaphorical distinction between high achieving lifters and the (but not less gifted) lesser achievers which is likened to the difference between a wolf and a dog.

These days the wolf is not just the champion lifter who is constantly preparing for the struggle of competition and  going to the training hall the day after competition in contrast to an athlete who places low in a “B” or “C” session and skips training to go shopping; it is the lifter who not only wants to make every lift and tries as hard as possible to make every lift, but he has to make every lift because that is his job and failure has negative consequences. But, there is a level of intensity even beyond this necessity.

It is just an opinion, but here it is; the toughest team, kilo for kilo, at the international level these days is the North Korean team. With a little more resources, not even the Chinese could compete with them. An astute observer can see it in their faces with no smiles, no head phones, no skipping training to go shopping, no posting videos on You Tube to become be a manufactured star.

One example of North Korean intestinal fortitude was PAM Kum Chol (PRK). For some inane reason or other the PRK trainer applied an excessive amount of liniment to his back. His entire back from the nape of his neck to the top of his pelvis turned beet red; the irritation even snaked around under his arm pits. He looked like someone poured scalding hot water on his back.  

In obvious agony, he would do a warm up lift screaming in pain, then either hop over to the cooler to pour cold water on his back or drop face down on the floor so that the trainer could apply ice to his back. This scene was repeated for each warm up. It was exhausting just to witness it.

Finally the doctor on duty brought in some cream to apply to his back, but it could be seen that his back was still in “flames” when he cleaned and jerked because he wore no T shirt under his uniform. In spite all this distraction, he still managed to finish the competition and even lift 200 kg to his chest.

The other development is not new but has become more obvious in light of the influx of more lifters who are driven by the aforementioned necessity to succeed. This concerns the fish and the pond. There were a number of incidences were good weightlifters who are fine, gifted athletes simply folded under the pressure of this high level competition.

They are neither weaker nor less coordinated. They were just crushed psychologically by the realization they were just one of eight or ten in their session and not the big fish. This realization may have been even more devastating for some who were “internet stars,” i.e., with numerous internet video postings of how well they were doing in training preceding this competition.

And, here they arrive at the international level to discover they are just small fish in a big pond. This is in contrast to being  big fish in a little pond back home or even at continental championships.

The real “big fishes” at these competitions are those who go out and do their best lifting simply because they are swimming in a big pond, and that is an additional motivation.

 

 

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