2021 Junior World Weightlifting Championships: Impressions

Andrew Charniga


The 2021 Junior World Championships were staged in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 05-23 – 05 -31, 2021 with all appropriate protocols suited to the current pandemic conditions. All in all, considering the current circumstances and the fact that the two strongest teams China and North Korea were absent; there were some impressive results with very positive prospects for the future; when some of these lifters graduate to the senior ranks.

General observations:

/ The usual arm lock controversies. So, what else is new.

Figure 1. Auyelkhanov Ablay (KAZ) JWC at 55 kg.

In the 55 kg class officials overturned a jerk with elbow wobble. In the interim, the ensuing delay messed up the next lifter Auyelkhanov Ablay (KAZ) who could not clean 140; from the long period of uncertainty as to when he would be called to the platform. Fortunately, he was successful with this weight on his 3rd attempt; but the opportunity to lift more was lost.

There appears to be an inordinate number of athletes who cannot lock elbows; which does not bode well for those seeking to do well in an elbow – flicker – fault – sport. This elbow – flicker – fault nit picking will only contribute to further sinking the sport to irrelevance in the Olympic movement. This situation will only worsen until the rules are changed; including doing away with the jury. It is hard enough lifting a maximum weight without adding to the lifter’s difficulty; by forcing unrealistic expectations; which result in a lot of lifts turned down. Furthermore, any spectator, of the marginal few in attendance;  would logically think; ‘what was wrong with that’.

If a junior/youth weightlifter is already having trouble; or, is incapable of locking elbows; this condition will not improve with time and prolonged training at weightlifting exercises. So, why bother invite them to weightlifting competitions. In a relatively short order these athletes will fall victim to the duel struggle of barbell and officials. 

A likely worse case scenario is the athlete who is unable to fully straighten one elbow to approximately 180°. In one case at this competition a young female was reduced to tears after two lifts were turned down for arm lock. She had one elbow which could not fully straighten to  180°. She showed elbow lock to officials before each attempt. As a result their attention was alerted to this ‘fault’. She was turned down twice for negligible wobble; this despite the lack of consideration from those involved to the difficulty of controlling both arms to lift with one arm ostensibly shorter than the other; and become immobile with a too flexible female barbell.

Why let these athletes into the sport only to subject them to unrealistic standards? Weightlifting is a sport of maximum effort – it is not gymnastics or figure skating. 

/ More coaches should consider loss of heat and even pulse rate to determine wait times in repeat attempts. Letting an athlete sit and cool off after a miss; especially after a psychological problem; is not a good strategy. If conditions and time permit better to have the lifter go back and do another full lift; even with or close to the last warm up weight.  This happens a lot. Some coaches apparently think a good pep talk is all the cooling off athlete needs; before going back out to the platform.

No amount of ‘touchy feely’ coaching can make up for lost heat. Given the alternative of loss of heat from sitting and the time spent listening to a pep talk; an athlete approaching the repeat weight sweating and/or slightly out of breath makes better physiological sense.

Figure 2.  Female lifter staying warm between attempts.

/ a number of lifters assume the start for the snatch and the clean with feet in line instead of with toes turned to the side. There is no special biomechanical advantage to lifting with toes straight ahead. This is especially true when you consider the lifter squats under the weight by moving feet to a toes out disposition. Other muscles of the thigh can contribute to the lifting force from the legs; they are not as active with straight feet disposition. Soviet research in biomechanics of weightlifting (Kanyevsky) advised the feet be deployed to and angle of 45°. So, feet pointing straight ahead has no confirmed advantage.

A number of developmental elements; especially in technique should pave the way for future success from the collection of athletes at this competition. The most crucial technique elements to consider: flexibility, coordination, focus,  speed of switching positions (moving body fast), reliable consistent balanced disposition in low squat, a reasonable body mass to height ratio.

Unfortunately, a number of the athletes are lacking in these qualities and skill; especially those using squat jerk technique Furthermore, most lifters in the + weight classes already are carrying too much mass, especially adipose tissue at a too early in their weightlifting careers. Some of the lifters at +109 are too big to effectively assume a reasonably efficient starting position; move slow into the squat and so forth; because of sheer bulk. Consequently, the coach has to consider where will these athletes be in a few years when they should be at their peak; especially if they put on more bodyweight.

Those complications are all the more valid for the females at 87 and +87. Generally females tend to add proportionally more adipose tissue in the heavier weight classes; useless for the weightlifter. One potential solution is to change the rules for juniors with weight limits in + classes and reduce the bodyweight categories; especially the female weight classes for 81 and 87 kg. 

With those observations in mind here are some of the lifters with the best prospects:

Kazakhstan has three potential Ilyns:

Auyelkhanov Ablay 55 kg; Akmoldda Sairamkez 67 kg and Bekbolat Rakhat 102 kg.


Figures 3 & 4. Akmoldda Sairamkez (KAZ) 67 kg and Bekbolat Rakhat (KAZ)102 kg

Those three lift with modern technique: high speed of switching direction, high speed of descent under the barbell and excellent coordination receiving barbell in squat or split. At their age; these qualities are the base for future improvement; not muscle mass and a big squat.

Another intangible quality these three share in common is their intense focus of attention on the task at hand. This quality of focus is not easy to acquire in the age of social media, cell phones and the enamorization of tattoos. 

Other rising stars to watch:

Bektas Cantu (TUR); Aisah Windy Cantika (INA); Belkihr Ghofrane (TUN); Fayzullaeva Kumushkhon (UZB); Sotieva Iana (RUS); Sergio Massida ITA; Ruiu Davide (ITA) Juniansyah Rizki (INA); Toshtemirov Mukhammadkodir (UZB); Marinov Vasil (BUL); Khristov Khristo (BUL); Hoza Bohdan (UKR).

These athletes were selected to have a lot of potential to improve into the senior ranks because of their excellent base of skill; not thier absolute strength.