The 2022 Junior World Weightlifting Championships

The 2022 Junior World Championships

Andrew Charniga

The enormous resort hotel for the meet headquarters is so new it does not appear on Google maps. Right on the beach with numerous swim pools between the hotel and the beach. A number of suites feature private walk out from room swim pools 7 meters x 3 meters. Unbelievable cuisine – way too good for us. Affluence and abundance detracts from the hard work of lifting. I look for the smelly, water – stained carpets of previous stays in Eastern Europe – not here.

The Chinese had pulled out and there were no Bulgarians on the start list. There is a serious lack of money in the sport. Consequentially, it is hard to gauge competitiveness when so many top teams are absent. Just because one team has the wherewithal to enter 20 athletes is not indicative of actual competitiveness internationally.

The current political uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections was an unfortunate cloud overhanging the competition. However, all sports in the Olympic movement have politics; issues with doping, confusing and/or antiquated rules; too many officials and so forth. There are many problems: too may officials; out of date rules; redundant, waste of time procedures and many more issues which need to be addressed. They are easy to recognize. The officials need only look behind their front row seats and see no audience at a world championship. Weightlifting in its current form is about as interesting as watching paint dry. 

A positive development is the the soon to be former USA weightlifting CEO and former Pan American federation treasurer out of the sport. Even though paid to work in Colorado Springs his ‘expertise’ apparently, fell to watching other people’s money.

The women

Figure 1. Zakharchenko, Alina (UKR), sits in ultra – low squat in 59 kg class. Charniga photo.

Without the Chinese, the PRK, Russia, Belarus, North Vietnam and generally sparse attendance of others the overall quality of the female lifting was rather low.

The men

Wichuma, Weeraphon (THA) displayed excellent speed and coordination in snatch; more strength in c&J; missing only his final jerk with 175 kg. Athletes of this type are the future of the speed sport of weightlifting.

Juniansyah, Rizki (INA) is a good example of how to lift a heavy weight. He possessed the skill to lift a slow moving barbell. The difficulty of a tedious slow pull with his second at C&J at 195; was compounded by the switch to a wide hand spacing, after standing. The effort to control the recoil of the barbell; exacerbated the fatigue of cleaning the weight. The oscillation of the barbell was dampened in the half squat, instead of contributing to the power for the jerk; he sent the barbell forward; far from an area of control.  He jumped to 199; only to barely deadlift it.

Figure 2. Juniansyah, Rizki (INA). Charniga photo

It is an unfortunate circumstance no one seems to notice guys like Amriddinov, Sharoffdin (UZB), who jerked the barbell from the finger tips, i.e., a weak pressing grip. Despite a poor arm lock; he split fast and wide to win with 3 successes in both snatch and C&J. Nevertheless, the idea one can defeat gravity with a wide hand spacing and/or squat jerk persists despite evidence to the contrary.

Hoza (UKR) at 195 cm in height and 109 kg belies the typical stereotype of a champion weightlifter; he is very lean, with long muscles. He all but power snatched 180; then followed this with two world records; including a big hop back snatch of 195 kg. He stood out in a class where most of the others were rather slow; some looking like they were lifting in a sand box.

Figure 3. Hoza Bohdan (UKR) cleans 205 on way to junior worlds records. Charniga photo.

Hoza Bohdan (UKR) made two C&Js then retired. Both were hop back easy cleans with normal hand spacing for the jerk. Many in attendance would fail to notice his long arms which disproved the old idea long arms were poor leverage for the jerk. Hoza made no effort to ‘cheat gravity’ by switching to a wide hand spacing; as a number in this competition did. Instead, he employed the appropriate technique of scissoring the legs quickly with a normal hand spacing; unlike others on the Ukrainian team who employed the squat jerk technique. Consequently, he jerks the barbell easily. 

Yousefi, Alireza (IRI) snatched 177 on his 3rd attempt; 13 kgs less than his 190.40 kg bodyweight. Nevertheless, he moves with considerable speed for a man of such a huge body mass; faster, by far, under the bar than anyone else in this class. With length of trunk disproportionate to arm and leg lengths; Yousefi, Alireza (IRI) is a classic brachiomorph. Soviets believed lifters of this body type had a mechanical advantage in that the trunk’s inclination to the horizontal would permit up to 2º of greater amplitude of movement relative to the horizontal; which translates into a greater distance to accelerate the barbell.

Figure 4. Yousefi, Alireza (IRI) cleaning junior world record 239 kgs. Charniga photo

He jerked 215 for gold; moving under this weight very fast; while shifting his feet in the jerk very fast, for someone of 190 kg body weight. He must have lost his concentration as he only deadlifted a Junior WR 239 on his 2nd attempt. He struggled with the clean on his 3rd with the same weight; having to sit in the bottom before standing; before jerking it easily. It is a legitimate question as how much he can continue to improve without gaining any more bodyweight; which would be a hindrance to his considerable athletic talents. If anything shedding a few kilos would be a good strategy for him going forward.  

General observations:

/ many of the athletes lift with ‘act of will’ technique: step by step purposeful movements. For instance, many make an effort to take a big breath before starting to lift; which can be a problem for the snatch; not as much for the c+j; but, is nevertheless unnecessary. Deciding when to breathe and how much is like telling your heart when and how many times to beat while lifting.

/ weightlifting sport has become as interesting as watching paint dry; it is the single biggest hindrance going forward to remain viable in the Olympic movement;

/ it is hard to assess the competitiveness of the athletes present; other than a few of the best lifters; when there are so many top lifting countries absent;

/ a lot of old ideas are still around in terms of training and management of the athletes in competition;  

/ a lot of the lifters were just slow; even mechanical; not good prospects for youthful athletes;

/ some lifters jump forward in snatch and clean; jumping forward involves applying force to the barbell in two vectors: forward and down as bar is moving away from the body. Something to bear in mind.

/ athletes in may cases had poor mobility; which can only hinder future improvement;

/ selection of competition attempts is probably the single weakest link at competitions. With so many misses coaches and athletes fail to recognize strength is no longer a decisive factor. Skill, inter – muscular coordination and such inherent qualities as muscle relaxation; more often than not determine if a lift is to successful. Consequently, readying a lifter to perform the requisite skills is a different mindset than trying to ‘psyche’ a lifter to be aggressive; as is the common approach.

Another deficiency of competitions is the rule permitting so many changes of weight. No one seems to abuse this rule more than the USA’s ‘national weight changer’. At least three USA lifters were lucky to make a total after missing their opening weights; weights, which were changed multiple times and even after the clock had started on the called first attempts. The ‘national weight changer’ not only wasted everyone’s time putting in weights that were not to be taken; but, narrowly missed multiple bomb outs in the process.

In closing: the USA presented a rather negative image to the rest of the world in attendance; with so much money spent on so many politicos in attendance. People who have no real business being there; other than self aggrandizement. They were spending someone else’s money to fund dubious political ambitions. Was it coincidence two caught the Covid? Money spent on politicos doesn’t go to the athletes, the coaches, clubs etc; yet Colorado has the mendacity to solicit donations;  solicit excessive club, baloney coaching certification fees, national competition entry fees and so forth.