Tokyo International Forum sets new standard for watching weightlifting
One of downtown Tokyo’s finest buildings put on a top-class test event one year out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – and got some world records in return...
Incredible competition, world records and a unique way for spectators to watch athletes warming up all contributed to a highly successful weightlifting test event at the Tokyo International Forum on 6 and 7 July, giving fans a glimpse of the excitement they can expect next summer.
Part of the READY STEADY TOKYO series, the competition featured Olympic and world champions, medallists and world record-holders all coming to the Japanese capital to make up an incredibly strong field in every sense of the term. The event was organised by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, alongside the Japan Weightlifting Association and with the support of the International Weightlifting Federation.
“The preparations for the Tokyo 2020 weightlifting competitions have given us every reason to expect that these will be outstanding Olympic Games for our sport and its leading athletes,” IWF President Tamás Aján said.
Organisers followed the guidelines established by the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020, which encourages organising smaller international tournaments in order to provide both an effective technical test and cost savings.
Before competition even began, the venue itself, which will host both Olympic weightlifting and Para powerlifting next summer, was enough to take the breath away. With 11 storeys above ground and three below, one of Tokyo’s most important and eco-friendly convention and art centres is topped by a stunning glass atrium.
Using existing venues is a central part of Tokyo 2020’s ethos, with the aim of easing pressure on organisers; and with structures this beautiful, in central Tokyo, few spectators will complain.
The training hall, located in the basement, incorporates an elevated glass walkway where fans can watch athletes train prior to their walk to the stage. This unique feature will help add to the drama at Tokyo 2020.
Seventy-three athletes from 10 countries across three continents took part, although a Japan-China-Korea friendship tournament was at the centre of the event, with many categories featuring lifters from just those nations. The competition served as a Silver Level Qualification event for Tokyo 2020.
It was spectacular stuff right from the start: in the day’s first session, Hou Zhihui of China set a snatch world record in the women’s 49kg category with a 95kg lift, while Ibuki Takahashi of Japan got the locals cheering with a bronze medal.
Huang Minhao of China then posted a world record in the men’s 67kg snatch, with a 155kg lift. And there was more to come: in the men’s 96kg category, China’s Tian Tao, silver medallist at the 2018 World Weightlifting Championships, took home gold and grabbed a world record in the clean and jerk with an incredible 231kg lift.
The final session of the day produced perhaps the most thrills, as +87kg 2018 world champion Tatiana Kashirina of Russia and Li Wenwen of China engaged in a real battle for the gold. Eventually Li prevailed with a 326kg total, and a junior world record of 185kg, in the clean and jerk.