2022 European Weightlifting Championships

Andrew Charniga


2022 European Weightlifting Championships

Tirana, Albania May 29 – June 5, 2022

Despite these championships coming on the heels of the junior worlds a few weeks before and in the absence of the Russian, Beyelorussian and Romanian teams some of results were quite good; just the depth was lacking.  These championships were live streamed which is good for the public image of the sport.

However, a good bit of the format and the commentary was not. Incessant chatter detracts from the action, especially: “what passes for knowledge”. The commentators tout themselves as experts; even hawking an online coaching business with “proven success”. They crassly poked fun at the quantity of volunteer loaders. They did not notice there is nothing defective about a solid wood competition platform; that is unless it is mounted on a stage which flexes underneath.

The problem with incessant chatter from ‘experts’ is the inevitability of revealing how little one actually knows about weightlifting sport.

For instance, just before one lifter in the 73 kg men’s class attempted to clean and jerk 180 kgs; the elite coach commentator pointed out this athlete’s proficiency in the jerk from the chest; because he had witnessed him push press 150 kgs for repetitions in training. After the lifter failed to jerk 180 kg from the chest twice: no comment. Furthermore, the commentators made the push jerk technique and splitting in the jerk with bent back knee sound like special technical skills – while at the same time conveniently ignoring all the misses with athletes stumbling around to balance or fix the weight overhead with these special skills. And so it goes:

“It’s never been so easy to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything”, Karl Taro Greenfield, in the New York Times

Women 55 kg

There were a lot of misses in this class; especially as the barbell approached 200% of bodyweight. For instance, only six of 13 3rd attempts in the clean and jerk were good lifts.  There were a lot of high pull – shrug and sit lifts. An accentuation to fix the weight and balance in the squat was lacking in many attempts. A number of athletes had an obvious difficulty separating training exercises from the classic competition exercises. An exception was Samuliak UKR. Her movements are fluid with fast descent under the barbell.

The easy winner Veli Evagjelia (ALB) made a lean forward power clean with easy jerk to win with 113. Her results were a substantial improvement over her past, in a heavier weight class.

61 kg

Dimov Ivan (BUL) lifted a slow moving130 from a deep squat start; with fast drop into a low squat. Tallest in class and slight of build for this weight class; by old standards he doesn’t seem to have the muscle mass; especially in upper extremities. He pulled too long and descended too slow for 133 2nd. Bradenhuber (GER) made a good 134 with a hop back.  Dimov Ivan (BUL) sat back deep, relaxed and dropped low and fast under 135 for gold in snatch. Dimov Ivan (BUL) cleaned 151 with very slow barbell speed; jerked well with shifted wide hand spacing. The two Germans in this cl;ass seemed to be applying push pres technique in the jerk which does not work very well. Marinov (BUL) easy clean no jerk with 157 2nd; wide grip was lost back. Corrected on 3rd for good 3rd and gold in jerk. He ‘stretched’ the bar; not pressing up and back like before. Once again a lot of misses; especially as the weight approached 240% of bodyweight: 7 of 10  missed 3rd attempts in jerk.

59 kg Women

TCHAKOUNTE Dora (FRA) with more strength than technique made 96 easily after power snatching opener. FRA TCHAKOUNTE Dora lost 98 3rd attempt behind. Magistris Lucrecia (ITA) sat with 98 shaking; before controlling to move into first. The weaker athlete snatched more.  14 missed attempts of 27 in clean and jerk.

/ Many lifters/coaches confuse strength with skill. The actual skill of weightlifting is to lift a slow moving barbell;  not to move the body slow and/or  move the bar over a special path.

 73 kg

Another class with a lot of misses: 15 of missed 27 in snatch alone.; 14 of 24 missed jerks. Here is a class where bent back knee jerks were missed repeatedly. A significant bent back knee in the jerk is the weak link which prevents a lifter from amortizing a big weight to fix it at arms length. A big breath before jerking is not a good idea. Max Lang took two big breaths before missing the jerk part with 180. If anything the feeling of tightness detracts from the athlete’s ability to move the body in the exercise.

71 kg women

This weight class may be the starting point of departure for the female motor skills to deteriorate with rising bodyweight. For instance, seven of ten 3rd attempts in the jerk were misses; even 5 of 10 2nd attempts were misses.

/ seemingly, the question of an optimum body mass index for males and females in the modern era: its effect on coordination; is left unanswered;

/ there needs to be a recognition involuntary muscle reactions to barbell vibration/oscillation exist, especially as it pertains to the elbows unlocking.

  81 kg Men

Robu Marin (MDA) injured his elbow; apparently trying to squeeze under 160 despite his inability to bend both knees and ankle joints uniformly; placing excessive stress on right arm. This class was another example of the difficulty today’s lifters have with the clean and jerk exercise; especially in this class as the weight of the barbell reaches 220 – 225% of bodyweight.

Andreev Bozhidar (BUL) made an easy clean and easy sliding hands out jerk 1st @ 185. Mata Eduardo (ESP) struggled to jerk 186. Harutyunyan Rafik (ARM)  hopped forward cleaning and easily  jerking with 187. Margaryan Karen (ARM) hopped forward to clean 190; unable to recover in jerk. Andreev Bozhidar (BUL) easy clean and easy sliding hands jerk 2nd with 190. Mata Eduardo (ESP) struggled to jerk190; 191 was turned down.  Margaryan Karen’s (ARM) multiple adjustments of barbell on the chest caused a no attempt to jerk. Mata Eduardo (ESP) @193 easy clean with jerk not close; pushed way in front. Harutyunyan Rafik (ARM) a  hard clean with 194; good jerk for 1st place. Andreev Bozhidar (BUL) made a very easy clean and missed jerk with sliding hands not fixing the weight.

Mens 89 kg

Manukyan Vardan (ARM) 1st with 160 was very fast with a very low squat; he missed 165 forward; ditto on his 3rd; with slight hop forward. Davitadze Revaz (GEO) pulled 167 forward and sat slow for good lift. Karapetyan Andranik (ARM) easy hop back 168. Ficco Cristiano (ITA) slowly pulled straight with slow squat miss at 168; he repeated the same on his 3rd. Pizzolato Antonino (ITA) without fixing his balance in start; pulled 170 forward. After a very brief rest to follow himself he hopped back with better attention to fixing the weight in the squat. Nasar Karlos (BUL) hopped forward and squatted fast and low with JWR 171. Davitadze Revaz (GEO) taking more time over the bar pulled 171 forward leaving it forward for miss. Another short rest to return to 171; Davitadze Revaz (GEO) pulled slow and forward; this time muscling it to outstretched arms. Karapetyan Andranik (ARM) made a very powerful seemingly effortless hop back 174. Nasar Karlos (BUL) 2nd with 175 hopped forward and lost forward.  Pizzolato Antonino (ITA) rushed to the bar and pulled fast; dropped fast and backwards under a good 175. Nasar Karlos (BUL) pulled forward slow and hopped forward slow to miss 176 3rd. Karapetyan Andranik (ARM) took no time to get set in start left the 178 3rd in front without being close.

 Nasar Karlos (BUL) set new junior world records placing second n  89 kg. Charniga photo.

Note that when some of these top guys miss and follow themselves in snatch they take less than one minute to return to the platform; retaining the body heat of previous attempt to use the energy on the upcoming attempt.

Davitadze Revaz (GEO) jerked 198 forward with bent back knee; he returned to platform one minute later for same weight. Still forward; this time walking forward under it. Manukyan Vardan (ARM) 200 1st attempt struggle to clean, with little pause, jerked way forward. Ficco Crisitano (ITA) slowly cleaned, solidly jerking 200. Manukyan Vardan (ARM) cleaned 200 much easier; still jerking too far forward to control; repeating the same mistake for the 3rd miss forward. Davitadze Revaz (GEO) hop forward clean with 202; no effort on the jerk.

Nasar Karlos (BUL) opened with a 203 hop froward clean; jerking forward to step under for control. Ficco Crisitano (ITA) made a slow clean; solid step forward jerk with 206. Pizzolato Antonino (ITA) opened with a strong clean and solid jerk with 210. Ficco Crisitano (ITA) failed to rack 210. Nasar Karlos (BUL) 2nd with 211 was a slow clean and forward jerk; stepping forward to fix it. Pizzolato Antonino (ITA) another strong clean with 212 and solid fast jerk. Nasar Karlos (BUL) made a better, but fatiguing clean with 217; was too fatigued to jerk. Pizzolato Antonino (ITA) made another strong clean with a world record 217 with a fast feet, powerful jerk. 5 of 10 3rd jerk attempts were misses.

/ the best measur of the correct weightlifting technique is the athlete’s skill to lift a slow moving barbell;

+109 Men

 Talakhadze Lasha {176 kg bdwt.} (GEO) had Kinesiotape on his knees; under his wraps; adding to the resistance to his descent into squat?

A foreshadowing of a problem or an impending potential negative outcome is a weightlifter’s heavily wrapped knees. Lasha Talakhadze was using heavy knee wraps covering an under layer of kinesio type tape at this championships. Even if taping on top of heavily wrapping knees would prevent injury; which it does not; this practice entails a risk of limiting the lifter’s ability to safely absorb the mechanical energy of bending and lifting. In effect, if the amplitude of knee bend is restricted and/or the joints otherwise stiffened; the energy of the squatting is shifted to other parts of the body, hip, back, ankle or groin for instance.  

Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) uncharacteristically for him, had to step forward with his 208 1st attempt snatch. Minasyan Gor {153 kg}(ARM) muscled 210 after a miss forward. Laylayan Varazdat {153 kg} (ARM) sat with arms slightly unlocked with 211, no lift.; turning the barbell over better and sinking a little lower he made 211 on 3rd. Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) sat slightly lower with 212 on his 2nd  before proceeding to 217 on his 3rd with a step forward. He seemed to move slower and with less confidence than his usual self.

 Laylayan Varazdat (ARM) lifting big weights with good mobility for such a big man. Charniga photo.

Minasyan Gor (ARM) 1st with 236 was a slow muscled clean and slow muscled jerk. Laylayan Varazdat (ARM) with the best mobility of the supers opened with a good 240. He lifts without any external mobility restricting wraps. He was, by far, the most flexible of this group. Today’s enviromens of coaching expertise in weightlifting typically focus excessive attention to minutia (see opening remarks) and/or likewise excessive technical details of bar trajectory; and, various ‘act of will’ advice on techniques; squat and pull weights; and so forth.

 Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) normally extremely reliable in the clean and jerk was unable to jerk his 2nd at the 2022 European Chps. Charniga photo 

One profoundly critical principle often overlooked is the fact the weightlifter must be supple in multiple joints; and, this suppleness is converted into mobility in all joints simultaneously. Wrist, elbow, shoulder, spine, hip, knee and ankle joints have to be supple and all bend in unison at one and the same instant when a lifter squats under and fixes a barbell on outstretched arms or on the chest. Without this special quality the lifter’s movements are slowed, inhibited by resistance from his/her own bend resistant joints and soft tissues. 

The Laylayan Varazdat’s technique, the fluidity of his movements are part optical illusion. The aforesaid joints (sans knee wraps) of this lifter all bend together at the same instant. His elasticity enhances his technical proficiency instead of inhibiting it; like most of the guys in this class with modest to poor mobility.  

Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) 1st with 245 was cleaned with lean forward; jerked with more effort than usual; with obvious pressing up on the barbell. Minasyan Gor (ARM) pulled 245 high and back failing to muscle the jerk; only doing a pull on his 3rd with 245. Laylayan Varazdat (ARM) had a level 1 Valsalva with easy 252 clean;  no attempt to jerk; repeated the same event with 3rd. Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) stumbled forward in clean; was unable to muscle up the jerk on his 2nd and passed his third attempt having won all three events.

Apparently, Talakhadze Lasha (GEO) had an injury coming into this competition. Here is wishing him the best to recover his old form. However, it should be pointed out he is probably reaching the limits of his ability to drop under the barbell effectively for maximum lifts. The increasing girth of his waist, thighs, combined with the knee joint stiffening effect of heavily wrapped knees means the barbell has to be raised ever higher; because all the joints cannot bend far enough, fast enough to perform the exercises efficiently. One question the coaches should consider going forward does he really need the heavy wraps? A simple slip on neoprene type might be a better option as it would not restrict mobility; while at the same time provide the extra insulation for knee joints.