The 2011 European Championships: Part II

The Men



The 56 kg class has long been a weak category for Europe since the departure of Halil Mutlu (TUR). The Russians have not prepared a good 56 kg in many years. The lightest Russian entry for this competition was the 69 kg class.

Oleg Sirghi (MOL) was eighth after the snatch with only 112 kg, six kilos behind the leaders. Very tall for this weight class, Sirghi the “stick – man” made three very explosive clean and jerks, finishing with 150 kg, to move into first place. He is the antithesis of the 56 kg lifter of the past who is shorter and more compact with more muscle mass.


Oleg Sirghi (MLD) ceans his winning lift 150 kg. Charniga photo.

The performance of Tom Gogebuer (BEL) was very noteworthy. He was the oldest competitor in this class. A former 62 kg lifter he is very lean at 56 kg. Nonetheless, he got the most out of his body, especially in the snatch when he squatted very low to save 114 kg. His technical efficiency enabled him to overcome stronger guys in this class like Dzerbianiu (BLR).

Sezer Bunyamin (TUR) won the 62 kg class easily. He got off to a big lead in the snatch with 140 kg over the Romanian Buci Antoniu’s 134 kg. But the difference between these two and the rest of the field cannot be characterized merely in kilograms. Sezer’s snatched 131 – 135 – 140 kg which even to the naked eye demonstrated a very high level of modern, technical proficiency.



Sezer Bunyamin (TUR) snatched this 140 kg to take a commanding lead in the 62 kg class.  Charniga photo.

The barbell shifted towards his body right off the platform; he raised it close to his torso and squatted under it, especially on the final attempt, very low, with blinding speed. Several guys in this class were very strong but lacked coordination. The barbell went forward as it rose off the platform; they had to chase it by jumping forward, and  they lacked the flexibility to descend under the weight fast and low.

Sezer was not just ahead by 7 kilos after the snatch; he was way ahead on mechanical efficiency.

Lifters who pull forward have a tendency to stand ready for the jerk a little forward. That is to say they do not shift their balance backwards before beginning the exercise. The whole athlete barbell system is shifted slightly forward; as a consequence, the barbell is slightly forward when they perform the half squat for the jerk. Many times the accessible weight is dropped because it is jerked too far forward as a result of this forward shift in the starting position.

The French lifter Caesemaeker has fairly good technique except it is laboriously slow, step by step, as if learned by the numbers. When he gets to a heavy weight, he cannot lift it but not for lack of strength; he is just too slow to overcome it. Sezer made a fairly easy 153, but a harder and sloppy jerk with 158 kg. His highly proficient snatch technique did not carry over to the jerk portion of the exercise, but he overcame this weight.

Sezer then selected 161 kg. He cleaned it well, jerked it to arms length then dropped it forward. He does not scissors his legs in the classic style but splits with his rear leg bent quite a bit, and this, in turn, becomes the weak link for support and balance.

Giscan (ROU) appeared with a jump forward clean of 162 kg and a forward jerk, but he stepped under it to fix it overhead. Buci (ROU) followed with a jump forward clean. He stepped back to set for the jerk, half squatted slightly forward, then dropped the barbell in front with an aborted squat style jerk. Buci repeated with a better clean with 165 on his third. He tried descending lower into the squat with his squat jerk technique but down it came in front, no lift.



A number of lifters missed jerks because the barbell was lifted at an angle in front of the athlete. Charniga photo.

Atak Hersit (TUR) went to 166 kg on his third to secure the gold in the jerk and move into second ahead of Buci on the total. Atak made a strong clean with a big jump forward which was followed by a step forward to prepare for the jerk. He then jerked the barbell to arms length, but it was also forward for a reasonable area of balance and down it came in front. Atak’s jerk looked easier than it was. It went to arms length but the barbell trajectory was not vertical; it moved upward at an angle in front of the athlete. So, the lift was not even close.  

The 69 kg brought out the Russian’s first entry, Vladislav Lukanin. He has been around the international scene for quite a while, having competed at the 2001 Junior World Championships. He has even come back from an elbow dislocation a few years ago.

Of the leaders in the snatch Bilgin (TUR) made his opener with 143 kg relatively easy with only a step forward. Godelli (ALB) made a very explosive and low squat snatch with 145. He was followed by Lukanin who did the same with 146 kg. Martin Razvan (ROU) power snatched his first with 146. On the surface that sounds like a huge reserve, but it presents problems when the weight gets even a little heavier.

Bilgin lifted 148 to arms length easily but the barbell drifted backwards for a miss. His third with this same weight was not fixed overhead. Godelli shot 150 kg to arms length and settled into a very low squat only to have the weight shift rearward for a miss. Lukanin seemed to have his second with 150 kg, but he dumped it in front. Martin Razvan basically power snatched his second with 150 kg to move into first. Godelli repeated his miss with 150 in the same way as his second with this weight. Likewise Lukanin repeated his second missed lift with his third at 150 kg. The barbell got to arms length but he could not settle lower in the squat to secure it.


Martin Razvan power snatched his opener. Charniga photo

Now Benay Mete (TUR), who narrowly missed a world record in this exercise at the world championships in Antalya, made 151 kg look routine with a slight hop forward. Martin Razvan who power snatched his opener and made his second with 150, still a power snatch squat under the barbell, was unable to settle lower in the squat with “only” 153 kg to fix it overhead. That is the problem with power snatching heavy weights in the warm up room and on the platform.

Benay Mete made another easy, routine lift with 154 kg. His third with 156 kg was even better, but the bar drifted forward, and, despite taking several steps, he could not save it. After the snatch Lukanin was down 8 kg to Benay and 5 kg to Martin Razvan.

Of the leaders Benay appeared first with 175 kg. After a struggle to stand up, he dropped the weight, apparently because he was on the verge of blacking out. Bilgin followed with the same weight for an easy clean but a very forward jerk for a miss. Benay made an easy clean with 175 on his second but dropped the weight again without trying to jerk it. Bilgin took his second then third attempt with this same 175 and missed both just like his first. Benay made it for zero for three, with a jump to 176. This time he made an effort to jerk it but it was not close.  

Lukanin took 177 kg for his first and made a strong clean and powerful jerk. Godelli made a good clean with 179 but jerked it forward. He strained to step under it, but unfortunately dislocated his elbow in the process and he was out.

Martin Razvan made a powerful clean and jerk with 181 to stay well ahead of Lukanin. Now with the gold medal hanging in the balance, the Russian camp made several tactical changes of weight. They “got” Martin Razvan up to 186 kg which he (Lukanin) made first with a very big struggle in the jerk.



Lukanin (RUS) cleans the winning lift 186 kg. Charniga photo.

Razvan took this same 186 for his third. He jerked it after a bit of a struggle to stand up, but unfortunately appeared to slip on the new for the Olympics Eleiko “non slip” platform. So the Russians got their first gold from the men.

There was no Russian entry in the 77 kg class, but there were at least five lifters who could contend for the gold.

Of the eventual leaders, Yagci Semih made an easy opener with 151 kg. He almost power snatched this weight, stopping it a fraction below parallel. A number of guys were doing power snatches in the warm up room, and it was obvious that it would not be an easy transition for some of them to squat low with their platform weights.

Qerimaj Erkand (ALB) made a fast, jump back opener with 154 kg. Arayik Mirzoyan (ARM), the nephew of Olympic champion Oxen Mirzoyan who was his coach at this competition, lifted 155 kg on his first with no problem. Dodoglu Alexander (MDA) lifted this same weight with a big jump forward. Rosu Alexandru (ROU) pulled the 155 kg high on his second, then rode the weight down to about parallel. Yagci Semih lifted 155 on his second by riding it down slowly to just below parallel.

Qerimaj Erkand (ALB) jumped way back with 157 on his second, tried pressing it out, then dropped it backwards. He came back with this same weight and executed a very fast and deep squat to succeed.

Dodoglu pulled on 158 kg but quickly dropped it, grabbed his thigh and limped off. Rosu pulled 159 high, got it to arms length, then failed to settle into a deep squat to amortize the barbell’s downward movement and dropped it forward. Yagci deadlifted 159 kg on his third. Mirzoyan pulled slow, squatted under slow, and was unable to fix 160. However, he got under this weight fast on his third to move into a five kg lead over both Yagci and Rosu.

Of the leaders Yagci appeared first with 181 kg and lifted this weight with no problem. Mirzoyan made a slow clean with 183 kg, took a big step forward and followed this with a sloppy jerk to move into first.

Rosu almost power cleaned 185 on his first, followed by an easy jerk. Mirzoyan followed him with 187 kg. He touched both elbows to his thighs with this weight and dumped it forward, but he came back to make it after a big struggle to control the jerk.

Qerimaj Erkand made an easy clean with a 188 kg first attempt but dropped the jerk forward. Yagci made a very easy clean with the same weight and a good jerk to move within 4 kg of the leader Mirzoyan. Qerimaj Erkand missed both cleans with 188 on his second and third attempts and he was out. Apparently injured, Rosu dead lifted 189 kg twice, so Yagci had the only shot to overtake Mirzoyan. After four half hearted attempts at 190 kg, by the rest of the field, 192 was loaded for Yagci’s final attempt.




 This clean looks perfect but Aghasyan (ARM) was unable to jerk it. Charniga photo

Yagci cleaned this weight very easy, jerked the barbell forward, but made a big step under to fix it overhead. He got the down signal with his knees flexed quite a bit, and this set off a firestorm from the Armenian camp because this lift pushed Mirzoyan not only into second, but into second place behind a Turkish lifter.  


Yagci (TUR) jerked this 192 kg to move into first but he received the down signal with his knees flexed, which set off a firestorm. Charniga photo

Yagci had jerked his previous two attempts with knees flexed at the end but the bend was slight. The Armenian camp had a legitimate grievance, but no right to behave in the manner they did when they stormed the jury table.

The 85 kg class featured two Russians: Junior World Champion Apti Aukudov and 2010 Senior World Championships silver medalist (172 + 208) Alexsei Yufkin. Janos Baranyai (HUN), who had the duel misfortune of dislocating his elbow at the 2008 Olympics and later having the injury splashed all over the internet, managed to snatch 160 kg and clean and jerk 201 for fifth place at this competition.

Of the top three, Hennequin Benjamin (FRA) opened with an easy 160 snatch. He made  165 on his second attempt with a slight hop forward. Lifting for Israel (but living and training in the Ukraine) sans visible muscle mass, Moshik made a nice low squat snatch with his second attempt 165 kg. Novikau Mikalai (BLR) missed a 165 on his second. He jumped forward, almost dislocating his elbow, but he managed this weight on his third.

Yufkin looks a lot like the great Russian lifters of the 60s and 80s; he is almost soft in appearance, relaxed, made a very efficient 166 kg on his first attempt.  Hennequin who has a lot of upper body muscle mass for a modern weightlifter had 167 up for a few seconds then lost it and went flying backwards off the platform. Eighteen year old Aukudov duplicated Yufkin’s quiet efficiency with his first at 168. Gevorgyan Edgar (ARM) missed his second attempt 170 kg with the same big jump forward he used on his first attempt with 165.

Yufkin had 170 up after a slight hop forward, but not in a low squat; the barbell drifted back and down it came. Gevorgyan could not chase 170 forward on his third and missed. Yufkin came back with 170 and, after pausing for a couple of seconds in the low squat, stood up for a good lift. Aukudov had 173 up easily, but he quickly lost it backward. He sank into a very low squat to save this same weight on his third and went up 3 kg on Yufkin.


Aukudov (RUS) pulling on 173 kg. Charniga photo

In the clean and jerk, Hennequin opened with 201 and made this with a little struggle in the clean. Aukudov, playing it safe, took 202 kg for his opener to secure first place. Yufkin, who was lighter than Aukudov, followed with 203 kg to move within 2 kg of Aukudov. It was an efficient clean followed by a good jerk with a normal jerk hand spacing; there was no wasted motion or energy moving the hand spacing out or switching to a “thumbless” grip.

Hennequin made an easier clean with his second at 204 kg followed by a mechanical but nonetheless successful jerk. Aukudov cleaned 207 very efficiently jerked it to arms length then stumbled around a bit before finally fixing it for the down signal. Unlike the other Russians (and most lifters for that matter) his toes are not turned to the inside or even straight ahead when he scissors his legs. Aukudov turns his toes out slightly which seems to cause his instability in the split position.

Henniquin took 208 kg for his third attempt and basically repeated the lift he made on his second. At this point he was in first place in the clean and jerk. This was short lived because Yufkin selected 210 to move into first over Aukudov. He made a powerful clean with this weight and a textbook jerk to put the pressure on Aukudov.

Out came Aukudov with 212. He cleaned this weight very well, but jerked it with that awkward scissors and had to stumble about to get his feet in line. He got the down signal but it is doubtful he was ever motionless.

Now it was up to Yufkin. He selected 215 to move ahead of Aukudov on bodyweight. This is 3 kg more than he attempted and failed for first place at the World Championships in Antalya.


Yufkin (RUS) rises with 215 clean. Charniga Photo

He pulled this big weight to his chest, had to stop at the bottom of the squat, but he still managed to stand erect with a step forward to get his balance. Unlike what many male weightlifters would do in this situation, Yufkin had the presence of mind to take his time, to regroup in order to balance, as the Russians say, the “athlete barbell system.” Then he raised this big weight to arms length, stepped under it, and he became the champion.  

The 94 kg class had only one Russian entered. Andrei Demanov had several guys bunched together on total. Of the leaders Anatoli Circu (MDA) was the first to start with a fast 170 kg, but he had to stumble around a little before he got the down signal. Didzbalis Aurimas (LTH) jumped back quite a bit with his opener at 171 kg. He rearranges feet asymmetrically, i.e., not in a straight line under the barbell.  

Demanov (RUS) did a nice pull with a nice shrug and dropped 171 in front; it was not even close. On his second attempt he left the high pull in the gym and snatched this weight.

Poghosyan Gevorik (ARM) made an extremely fast jump forward into a deep squat with 173 kg on his first. Circu likewise made 173 not as fast, but he made a very low squat snatch. He followed himself for the increase to 175 and had it up easy but could not find his balance in the deep squat and lost it behind. Demanov did a fast high pull, hopped forward, but down came 176 kg. Didzbalis got under 177 fast and asymmetrically for a good lift; then he walked off screaming.


Circu (MDA) sinks low with 173 kg snatch. Charniga photo.

Poghosyan pulled the barbell back, jumped forward, failing to coordinate the two movements and 178 was not even close. He repeated the same uncoordinated shifting of barbell and body with 178 on his third. He seemed to have it overhead briefly, but it was not secure.  Didzbalis, lifting with the right side of the barbell higher than the left, had 182 up in an asymmetrical squat, for a second, but he dropped it for no lift.

Going into the clean and jerk Demanov was in fourth behind Poghosyan, Circu, and Didzbalis.

Didzbalis, the leader after the snatch, began with a big jump back  clean at 205 and jerked in a very deep and shaky split.  Circu opened with a 210 kg which looked like it was about as much as he could do on this day.  Didzbalis cleaned 211 all right, but, as he sank slowly into a deep split, he unlocked his arms and dropped the weight. His third attempt with the same weight was a repeat of his second. He split his feet under the barbell with the back leg bent quite a bit and this was the weak point as the barbell drove his knee to the platform.

Demanov opened with a jump forward 213 clean and a shaky jerk to move ahead of Circu who was lighter. Poghosyan opened with a pull back, jump forward, strong clean with 215; then he missed an uncoordinated jerk. Circu made a stronger clean and jerk than his first with 215 kg to move back into first place ahead of Demanov. Poghosyan made a powerful, poorly coordinated clean, followed by a powerful jerk with 216 kg on his second to go up one kilo on Circu.  

Circu “played his hand” with his best effort in the clean and jerk at 217 kg to move back into first. Demanov made a hop forward clean and strong jerk with 219 kg to move ahead of Poghosyan and within one kilo of Circu.

Poghosyan banged the 220 kg barbell hard against his thighs and chased it forward to lift it to his chest. After a big struggle to rise from the squat, he drove the barbell to about head height and that is as high as it got. Demanov selected 220 kg to move ahead of Circu into first. He struggled to stand with this weight but managed to jerk it and the Russians had another European champion.    

The Russians had two entries in the 105 class with Khadzhimurat Akayev the 94 kg bronze medalist in Beijing and Roman Konstantinov the bronze medalist of the 2009 World Championships.

Konstantinov tried to power snatch his opener with 180 kg to no avail. By contrast Bartlomeji Bonk (POL) made a very efficient modern low squat snatch with 180 kg. Konstantinov repeated with 180 for his second. He did a nice high pull and shrug while trying to squat half way down. It was not a snatch and not even close to being a success.

A lean Ferenc Gyurkovics (HUN), who at 32 looks like he should be lifting in the over 40 competition, power snatched 175 on his first, but he could not go down low enough on his second with 181 kg. Audzeyeu Mikhael (BLR) performed a slow up and slow down squat snatch with 181. Gyurkovics selected 182 kg for his third and once again appeared to lift the barbell high enough but simply could not squat under it. Machavariani Gia (GEO) sat very low with his second at 183 and got up screaming.

Akayev opened with 185 kg. He made a power snatch with this weight screaming all the time. A quiet, flexible, Bonk sat low with a very smooth and efficient 185 kg but let it drop behind.  Machavariani appeared to make another nice deep squat snatch with 185, but he apparently cracked his elbows standing up with the weight and was turned down.

Bonk repeated his miss with 185 kg on his third, except the barbell rotated backwards right away.

Akayev sat lower with his second at 190 kg to move into a big lead. Taking 195 for his third, Akayev tried to squat lower but with obvious resistance from his leg muscles. He began to struggle to hold the weight and the toe end of both shoes left the platform while both elbows clearly unlocked. He ran forward screaming with the weight, struggling to keep from running off the platform. The referees “gave” him a good lift. That was a part of what is called “the home team advantage.”



Akayev’s (RUS) arms unlocked with his 195 kg snatch. Charniga photo.

With Konstantinov getting a zero in the snatch there was no real competition for Akayev. There were many missed jerks, which in many cases the athletes struggled a little to clean the barbell and was unable to “separate” the first part of the exercise, i.e., they did not eliminate the muscle tension form the squat recovery before proceeding to jerk the weight.

After several missed jerks, the barbell reached 220 kg which brought out Akayev. He cleaned this with a big jump forward and round shoulders as he stood up. A very easy jerk and he was champion. He made another jump forward, “screaming” clean with 225 on his second. This time he jerked the barbell a little forward but stepped under it to fix it. His third attempt with 230 kg was a repeat performance except with more screaming.

The 105+ class had two Russians Dmitry Lapikov and Yevgeny Chigishev and the fight for the gold was expected to be between them. Igor Shymechko (UKR) would round out the top three.

Shymechko appeared first with 190 kg. He made a very efficient smooth lift with this weight. Lapikov was next with 192 kg which he hauled up slowly, almost a power snatch, only to let it drop behind. He managed to squat lower with the same weight on his second for a good lift.

Chigishev who injured his left thigh in Antalya after snatching 210 kg opened with 195 kg. He fixed this weight at about parallel then descended a little further in the squat. He began to stand slowly but dropped the weight about half the way up and grabbed the same left thigh he injured in Turkey.




Chigeshev (RUS) got this far with 195 kg before dropping the weight. Charniga Photo.

Shymechko made a very low squat snatch with the same 195 kg to move into first place. Chigishev got 195 kg a few centimeters off the floor on his second attempt, dropped the weight and hobbled off, done for the day. Lapikov went to 198 on his third attempt. He held it briefly in a low, but somewhat stiff squat position before letting the barbell fall behind. Shymechko was unable to fix his 198. He was still in first with 195.

With Chigeshev out it was now between Shymechko and Lapikov. Shymechko opened with 217 kg. He cleaned it well, shifted his right foot a little in front of the left for the jerk, but drove the barbell forward for a miss. He repeated with this weight and made a much better effort, jerking the barbell vertically and moving into a wide split position. Shymechko went to 223 kg for his third attempt. He made a hard clean and a poor effort at the jerk which was not close.

Lapikov made a mechanical looking 225 kg opener to secure the gold medal. In the meantime Jiri Orsag made three clean and jerks finishing with 226 to take the bronze. Lapikov took 227 just enough for the gold in the jerk and so ended a not very interesting 105+ competition.

All in all it would seem that on the surface the Russian men have a very strong team and should be a dominant force going into the Olympics. They have not won a gold medal since 2004 and only one at that. However, with the exception of Aukudav and Yufkin, these are not the highly coordinated, elastic, Russian male lifters of the 1970s and 1980s. They look rigid, almost like converted power lifters. This type of lifter lacking in elasticity tends to rely more on power and less on technique which is not very Russian. Also, there is a higher likelihood of injury when the athlete has to run around the platform to secure a weight overhead. So, these factors may have an impact on their potential for medals in London.