The 2017 World Weightlifting Championships

The 2017 World Weightlifting Championships

Andrew ‘Bud’ Charniga

Elbakh Fares Ibrahim (QAT). Charniga photo.

The 2017 World Championships were held at the convention center in Anaheim, California. The venue was similar to that of the 2015 version in Houston. However, unlike the 2015 WWC the loss of 10 of the top countries plus other no shows cut the attendance in half. This triggered a financial fiasco for the Anaheim convention bureau. They had to pay for the rooms blocked off for the championships in advance; consequently, they were stuck holding the bag when about half the anticipated attendees could not, or declined to attend.

Many of the athletes and coaches were housed in hotels geared toward the kiddie crowd; normally in town to go to Disneyland; small rooms, poor cuisine; in some cases chairs and toilets at potty height.

48 & 53 kg

The champion in this class was Mirabai Chanu Sikhom (IND) edged Sukchardoen Thunya (THA); lifting with better elasticity and technique and less strength than her opponent. Without CHN, PRK, INA and others the quality was down which was reflected in a lot of missed attempts.

Tanasan Sopita (THA) cleaning 124. Charniga photo.

Tanasan Sopita (THA) won the 53 kg class easily after the Olympic champion HSU Shu – Ching injured her elbow trying to snatch 95. Like the previous class there were a lot of pull and sit misses in the snatch and missed third attempt jerks. One of number of parents competing at this competition, the 2008 Olympic medalist Yoon Jin Hee (KOR) missed all three snatches.

58 & 63 kg

The 58s were both quantitatively and qualitatively better than the previous two classes. The top four in the snatch made twelve for twelve with even the 37 – year old mother Escobar Guerrero Maria Alexandra (ECU) making two good lifts. Srisurat Sukanya (THA) matched KUO Hsing – Chun (TPE) lift for lift with both ending with 105. Escobar Guerrero Maria Alexandra (ECU) set an example of the power of motivation and perseverance to the younger lifters with three good lifts in the clean and jerk. The new world record holder in the clean and jerk KUO Hsing – Chun (TPE) made three good lifts ending with 135 to win this class easily.

KUO Hsing – Chun (TPE) jerking 131 easily won the 58 kg class. Charniga photo.

Toma Loredana – Elena easily won the 63 class with six good lifts. There was a significant lack of depth in these classes normally dominated by Chinese. 

69 & 75 kg

The 69 kg was won by a 27 – year parent Solis Arboleda Leidy (COL), who only made two attempts. Pushing 32 years of age, Begaj Romela (ALB) placed second. Ahmed Sara Samir Mohamed (EGY) who won gold in the jerk, bombed in the snatch. Once again there were a lot of misses; the overall quality was not high. For instance, nine of the eleven the third attempts in the clean and jerks were misses.

Munkhjantsan Ankhtsettseg (MGL) injured her elbow in the snatch. Charniga photo

Out lifting the field by 18 kgs Valentin Lydia (ESP) did not have anyone to push her especially after Munkhjantsan Ankhtsettseg (MGL) left with an elbow injury in the snatch. Seven of the top eleven lifters missed their third attempt in the jerk.

90 & +90 kg

Hotfruid Anastasia (GEO) became the new 90 kg class champion without much competition excepting for Valdes Paris Fernandina (CHI) who took the gold in the jerk with 146.

The 90+ class was probably the worst of the championship. Even though the champion Robles Sarah (USA) made all six attempts; the best lifts represented – 8 kg (minus 20 kg in snatch and plus 12 kg in jerk) less than body weight.

The performance of the US team.

Considering the home team advantage, the money the US federation has at its disposal and the fact that this was a ‘half’ world championships the performance of the USA team was not much to write home about.

Generally, lifters who make a high percentage of lifts place higher. The USA made 31 of 48 attempts; but 15, or half of these good lifts were from the three lifters in the heavy weight classes. A woman old enough to be the grandmother of the two US lifters entered at 90 kg placed higher than the two US lifters.

The USA made 3/8 successful lifts of the critical third attempt in the clean and jerk and most difficult skill in weightlifting competitions. Two of these missed attempts would have resulted in a silver medal (69 kg) and at least a bronze (75 kg), respectively.  The tactics of weight selection seemed to be based on what the coaches thought the athletes could lift and not on what would be reasonable weights under those specific conditions. This circumstance of course contributed to the low overall success rate.


56 & 62 kg

The 56 kg class sans the Chinese and others lacked depth. Some of the ‘A’ session lifters would have been relegated to ‘C’ sessions if there were a normal level of attendees. Consequently, Thach Kim Tuan (VIE) won without matching his best lifts in years past. Tran Le Quoc Toan (VIE) had no problem placing second after Scarantino Mirco (ITA) zeroed in the snatch. All in all, another boring class with a lot of misses which included misses 8 of 10 third attempts in the jerk.

The 62 kg class was not much better than the 56 especially after the leader in the snatch Trinh Van Vinh (VIE) zeroed in the jerk. This allowed Mosquera Valencia Francisco (COL) to jump from seventh in the snatch to the gold. Eleven of the top 14 (79%) clean and jerk third attempts were misses.

69 & 77 kg

The unfortunate circumstance of this class, the USA’s best lifter  and certain medalist, Clarence Cummings was unable to make a successful jerk after switching to a squat style technique; relatively close to the competition. This left the door open to Won Jeongsik (KOR) and Bonsuk Tairat (THA).

Unfortunately, the myth that the squat jerk is an easier or otherwise more efficient technique is alive and well. This delusion continues, despite disproportionate number of reds which appear on competition scoreboards after the names of the lifters who use this technique.

This was another class where the absence China, Russia and the others really diluted the overall quality. The winner in this class Mohamoud Ihab Yousef Ahmed (EGY) easily distanced the field. He made four attempts; but his strength was stifled by movement patterns, which are stiff and almost rigid from too much training on static exercises. Nine of the third attempts in clean and jerks of the top 12 lifters were misses.  

85 &94 kg

Despite difficulty obtaining a visa, the Olympic champion Rostami Kianoush (IRI) managed to make it to the competition and of course was the favorite to win gold at 85 kg. Another internet star Yamamoto Toshiki (JPN); with videos of himself doing bodybuilding exercises, huge squats and dead lifts made 2 of six attempts. His movements much like Mohamoud Ihab Yousef Ahmed (EGY) in the 77 kg class were rigid and his elasticity stifled by so much work with heavy weights.

Mohamoud Ihab Yousef Ahmed (EGY) jerking 196 kg. Charniga photo.

Formerly of Cuba, now lifting for Chile, Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) opened with 163 dropping with blinding speed  with a slight hop forward into the low squat. Rostami Kianoush (IRI) hopped six or eight cm forward hitting a low squat with 170. Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) needed to walk forward to control the weight, after a not as fast 171. Rostami Kianoush (IRI) replied with a slow, big hop forward miss with 174. His repeat with the same weight was a better effort; as he forced himself into a low squat with another big hop forward. With his best effort of the night Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) dropped under 175 in a flash with a slight hop forward and a smaller step forward to bring it under control.

Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) opened in the clean and jerk with a conservative 203 for a very fast clean and easy jerk. Rostami Kianoush (IRI) struggled through the top of the recovery before jerking 212 hopelessly forward. He was unable to shoulder the same weight on his second; a classic case of uncertainty in the jerk affecting the clean. Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) cleaned 214 easily then with little pause jerked it before the barbell oscillated out of his control. He pointed to the barbell before leaving possibly because the collars were not properly tightened down. Saving his best effort for last Rostami Kianoush (IRI) managed to clean 215; but, in a rush to jerk, the bar barely passed his head.

Rostami Kianoush (IRI) missing 212 jerk. Charniga photo.

Already the champion, Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) went for 221 to break the world record. This time he could see the weights were not tightened down so he stopped to pull the discs together to make the weight even. He managed to clean this well; but the oscillating barbell through off his timing such that the jerk was not close.  

Mendez Perez Arley (CHI) attempting 221. Charniga photos.

In the 94s Moradi Sohrab (IRI) was so far ahead the rest could only fight for silver and bronze. Using the classic low starting position (beginning from a full squat) he hopped forward almost power snatching his opener with 176. Didzbalis Aurimas (LTU) managed to hold his third with 176 after two misses. Hopping backwards slightly, Moradi Sohrab (IRI) made the next two with 182 and 184 very smooth; almost effortlessly.

Poor snatcher Elbakh Fares Ibrahim (QAT) made an easy 210 with excellent technique. Hopping forward he cleaned 215 and jerked in a wide split for another excellent lift.  Moradi Sohrab (IRI) opened with an easy 220; struggling to lock out the jerk, he secured gold in the total. Elbakh Fares Ibrahim (QAT) struggled to clean 220; jerked well in a deep split; but had to walk several steps before getting it under control.  Moradi Sohrab (IRI) moved up to 233 to get the world record vacated by Ilya Ilyn’s positive re – test from London and at the same time set a new total record. He just managed to get the weight moving at the 1 – second mark on the clock. With an easy clean and a jerk without pausing in the start position he `became the new record holder in total and jerk.

105 & + 105 kg

The 105 kg class was another diluted by the absence of the banned countries. There were a  lot of misses especially in the clean and jerk, where 10 of the top 17 lifters missed their third attempt. Hashemi Ali (IRI) won what was a lackluster class. 

Hashemi Ali (IRI) cleaning 221. Charniga photo.

Although like the others, the depth of talent of the +105 was diluted, this class featured the two Olympic champions which included Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) the new world record holder in the snatch.

Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) snatching 220 world record and pulling a 257 clean. Charniga photos.

Alhosseini Said (IRI) who had received a lifetime ban in 2009 was permitted to return after appealing to have the ban consistent with the current rule of eight years. He missed his opener with 203 twice before he practically power snatched this weight. Salimikordasiabi Behadad (IRI) opened with 205 hopping forward then having to take several steps backward before getting the weight under control. At 173 kg his body mass has long since reached a point of diminishing returns; his bulk restricts his ability to squat under the barbell.  

Pushing the barbell away in order to bend and get his grip, Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) rolled the weight back without pausing to snatch 210 with ease. Salimikordasiabi Behadad (IRI) replied with a faster lean forward then step forward 211. Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) accelerated 215 to arms’ length faster than his 210.  Salimikordasiabi Behadad (IRI) pulled 216 over head but his bulk prevented him from sinking enough in the squat to fix it overhead.

Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) managed to struggle a little, taking several steps forward with a new world record 220. This exceeded his world record of 217 set in Split, Croatia at a bodyweight of 158.10. Here he weighed 166.00 an increase of eight kilos. However, relative to his height and the distribution of his body mass this increase does not seem to have the negative effect on his mobility it has had on Salimikordasiabi Behadad (IRI) who is at least equal in strength if not stronger.

Talakhadze’s two improvements in the world record in 2017 finally exceeded the 216 set by Krastev Antonio (BUL) in 1987. This 220 kg lift under today’s conditions is extraordinary to say the least. That is obvious from the fact it took 31 years to beat the old unlimited weight class record. And, so this quote from Australian sport scientist K.F. Dyer, seems appropriate:

 “…record-breaking performances almost by definition suggest areas where physiological knowledge is deficient and they certainly prompt investigations to explain them… physiological knowledge is therefore couched in terms of what can be achieved, that is, what at least one person on at least one occasion has achieved” (K.F. Dyer, 1984).

Alhosseini Said (IRI) pulled 236 very high in the clean; then jerked with arms fully locked. Salimikordasiabi Behadad (IRI) pulled forward, hopped forward; then jerked forward with an obvious press out. He was turned down by the jury. The Rio Olympics déjà vu all over again. He went to 242 this time making a concerted effort to push the weight to arms’ length in one movement. Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) opened with 243 to secure the gold. He jerks with a approximate shoulder width hand spacing.  Alhosseini Said (IRI) took the same weight for another easy clean and a proper jerk.

Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) made a conservative jump to 250. Pulling with sloped shoulders he manages to get his elbows up in the clean despite his body mass. The jerk looks slow, nevertheless the barbell gets overhead. Alhosseini Said (IRI) almost power cleaned 251 before making a sloppy forward jerk. Salimikordasiabi Behadad (IRI) made an easy clean but another sloppy jerk little press out at 251. After the jury overruled it the Iranians in the audience erupted in a raucous protest. This continued into the 3rd attempt of Djangabaev Rustam (UZB) with 252. The noise clearly affected him such that he was unable to even shoulder the weight.

Seim Mart (EST) was up in the midst of this din. He made an impressive psychological lift with 253; an act of defiance to the audience’s rudeness. Utterly ignoring the audience’s attempt to distract him Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) made his sixth attempt of the night with 257 for a new world record total of 477. This exceeded the 29 year old pre – weight change era total of Taranenko of 475 which was created in 1988. Another feat “where physiological knowledge is deficient.”

The Performance of the US team

The performance of the US team was similar to that of the females but even less impressive. They made only 47% of their attempts including a dismal 2 of 8 third attempts in the clean and jerk. The unfortunate circumstance of Clarence Cumming indicates a general lack of expertise to cultivate someone of his talent.