Raising the Olympic bar
Women lifters started competing at the Olympic Games only in Sydney in 2000, when Papua New Guinea’s 16-year-old Dika Toua, a competitor in Beijing, had the honour of making the first lift. Unnerved by the excitement of the moment she dropped her first snatch attempt at 45kg, but returned to lift the bar with ease.
Britain’s first Olympic gold
Men have been weightlifting at the modern Olympic Games ever since they began in 1896 in Athens when Launceston Elliot became Great Britain’s first Olympic champion by winning the one-handed super-heavyweight lift. At the same Games, Germany’s Carl Schuhmann managed to win medals in gymnastics and wrestling, as well as finishing third at weightlifting and fifth in the triple jump.
Short back and sides
In 1956 the American bantamweight Charles Vinci found himself seven ounces, or 200 grammes, over the weight limit just 15 minutes before the weigh-in, and that after an hour of running and sweating. Fortunately a severe last-minute haircut did the trick and Vinci went on to win the gold medal and set a world record!
Undoubtedly one of the greatest names in modern weightlifting is Naim Süleymanoðlu. Born to Turkish parents living in Bulgaria and only 1.47m tall, he set set his first adult world record when he was 15 years old. In 1996, representing Turkey, he became the first weightlifter to win a third Olympic gold medal and, considering he was world champion in 1984, it probably would have been his fourth but he was competing for Bulgaria in those days and they did not take part in Los Angeles. In 2001 he received the Olympic Order.