Home » Strength on the Rise: Analyzing the Potential Medal-Winning Countries in Weightlifting at the 2024 Olympic Games

Strength on the Rise: Analyzing the Potential Medal-Winning Countries in Weightlifting at the 2024 Olympic Games

As the 33rd Olympic Games approach in less than four months, we are providing an overview of the nations and individuals that are expected to excel and achieve high rankings on the medal table in Paris.

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Based on the official Olympic Qualifying Ranking, the Chinese team holds the top places in the majority of weight categories for both men and women, demonstrating its dominance. Indonesian and Thai weightlifters excel in the lighter weight categories, while weightlifters from Georgia, Qatar, and Armenia sit atop the heavier weight divisions. Athletes from the United States, Ecuador, Italy, and Bulgaria consistently maintain middle-of-the-pack positions in the Olympic rankings.

Only four categories of Olympic weightlifting classes will be in competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: the 61 kg and 73 kg divisions for men and the 49 kg and 59 kg divisions for women.

Paris 2024 Weightlifting Categories 

  • Men’s: 61 kg, 73 kg, 89 kg, 102 kg, 102+ kg
  • Women’s: 49 kg, 59 kg, 71 kg, 81 kg, 81+ kg 

Let’s look at the nations and their weight classes with the most potential to obtain Olympic gold in 2024. 

China’s Biggest Threat at 89 KG: Bulgaria and Columbia (Men’s)

Li Dayin, representing China, had a less-than-optimal start in the World Cup in Phuket. He successfully lifted 175 kg on his first and only Snatch attempt, earning him the bronze medal. He achieved a weight of 208 kg in the Clean & Jerk; however, this was not enough to secure a position in the top 3 for the lift. However, his cumulative score of 383 kg was sufficient to ensure the bronze medal in the division. He is now ranked first with a total weight of 396 kg, the same as Nasar’s.

The clash between Karlos Nasar from Bulgaria and Columbian Lopez Yeison garnered significant attention in the 2024 World Cup. In the Snatch event, consecutive world records were set. Initially, Nasar achieved a record-breaking lift of 181 kg. However, in the subsequent lift, Lopez overtook him by one kilogramme, resulting in a new record of 182 kg.

Given the contrasting form of these top three competing nations, Bulgaria’s Nasar and Columbia’s Yeison pose the biggest threat to China’s gold-medal hopes at this year’s games. 

A Heavyweight Armenian Could Top 102+ KG (Men’s)

Due to a knee injury, Georgia’s two-time Olympic champion, Lasha Talakhadze, did not participate in the 2024 World Cup. Since he currently holds the world records for Snatch (225 kg), Clean & Jerk (267 kg), and overall (492 kg), he chose to prioritise his rehabilitation in the lead-up to the Paris Games.

Gor Minasyan, the second-ranked athlete from Bahrain and a Rio Olympic silver winner, also withdrew from the World Cup in Phuket.

In the absence of the top two-ranked lifters, Varazdat Lalayan of Armenia won the weightlifting World Cup honours on the last day of competition in Phuket, Thailand.

Lalayan lifted a total of 463 kg (210+253), earning him silver medals on two occasions. He also became the champion of Europe and a two-time silver medalist in Europe. Not only that, but he was the exercise champion in both events. 

Active competition could favour the Armenian strongman ahead of his top-ranked rivals from Georgia and Bahrain. 

China Versus the World in Every Women’s Weight Class

Hou Zhihui achieved a remarkable career-high score of 97-120-217 during the Paris qualifiers. Her weightlifting growth was evident as she exceeded her winning total in Tokyo by 7 kilogrammes.

Luo Shifang, another member of China’s women’s squad, achieved her first world record in the 59-kg category. The head coach noted that the Chinese female lifters have consistently exerted dominance in this class for several years, and Shifang is no exception. 

Liang Xiaomei now holds the top position in China in the Olympic standings for her weight category. She has a significant 15-kg advantage over her competitor, Dajomes from Ecuador. In addition, she outperformed her fellow countrywoman Wang Zhouyu, who lagged by two kilogrammes in total.

Li Wenwen, in the women’s +87kg division, made a remarkable recovery after her elbow injury last year and won all three gold medals. Currently, she holds the top position on the list with a total weight of 325 kg, 29 kg more than her South Korean foe, Park Hyejeong. Interestingly, this is the top rating list in all weight categories.

Whether it’s 49 kg, 59 kg, 71 kg, 81 kg, or 81+ kg, China sits atop the current Olympic rankings in the weightlifting category. As a result, their expectations of gold at Paris 2024 are high. With plenty of online betting sites serving Ireland before the summer games, bookmakers should expect big money to arrive on this nation throughout the competitions. 

China: A Six-Year World Record Broken at 102 KG (Men’s)

Liu Huanhua of China achieved two world records and established a significant advantage in the Olympic rankings with his last lift at the IWF World Cup.

Before his record-breaking moment, no one had surpassed the 102kg world record established in 2018 by implementing new weight divisions. On his last try, Liu successfully increased his weight by 7 kilogrammes, reaching 232 kg. This achievement allowed him to establish new world records in the clean and jerk category and the overall weight lifted, with a score of 181-232-413.

This establishes his most significant advantage over his closest competitor in all five men’s categories for Paris 2024. Following a day of several fluctuations in rankings, the closest competitor is the 20-year-old Garik Karapetyan from Armenia.

Karapetyan was not included in the simplified lists at the beginning of the four 102kg sessions, which allowed just one athlete per country. However, he successfully lifted 185kg, 216kg, and a total of 401kg before choosing not to make his last attempt. This resulted in his fellow countryman, Samvel Gasparyan, being eliminated. 

While Armenia is likely to be one of the biggest threats to China’s gold medal expectations at Paris 2024, Huanhua is undeniably one of the brightest pound-for-pound prospects and should certainly take bronze in Paris on his worst day.  

Does the USA have the Best Weightlifting Team in Decades?

Olivia Reeves achieved second place on the Olympic Qualification Ranking by lifting a personal best of 150 kg in the Clean and Jerk discipline and 268 kg in total at the final qualification event. Reeves emerged as the champion in the World Cup in Phuket, surpassing her Chinese competitor Guifang to claim the top spot on the podium.

While at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Mary Theisen-Lappen started coaching athletes in the discus and shot-put events for the 2024 Olympic cycle. However, the Paris Olympics is likely her last chance to win a medal as the defending world silver medalist, something that is entirely possible, as she’ll enter the games as one of the highest-ranked U.S. lifters.

Following a narrow medal loss in Tokyo, Jourdan Delacruz is set to make an Olympic comeback.

With this opportunity, Hampton Morris—the first American male to do so since 1969—has the chance to become the youngest American weightlifter to compete in the Olympics since the year 2000.

Overall, the U.S. weightlifting team has the potential to achieve more than two medals at a single Games in Paris, which would be the first time since 1960. 

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