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The Rules of Olympic Weighlifting
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The Basics
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Weightlifting competition is conducted in eight bodyweight categories for the men, ranging from 56 kg. (123.46 lb.) to 105+ kg.( over 231.49 lb.), and seven bodyweight categories for the women, ranging from 48kg. (105.82 lb.) to 75+kg. (over 165.35 lb.). There are also age related competitions for athletes 13 and under, and as old as 85 and above. Consequently, athletes are always able to compete with athletes their own age, size and gender.
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Weightlifting consists of two events – the Snatch, and the Clean and Jerk (C&J). In competition, each athlete is permitted three “attempts” in each lift. The highest weights successfully lifted by each
athlete in each event comprise the athlete’s “Total”. The athlete with the highest total is the overall winner of the competition (in some competitions – e.g., World’s Championships, titles are awarded in the individual lifts as well as the total).
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First Lift: The Snatch
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The first event in Weightlifting competition is called the Snatch. The term comes from the French word “arrache” and means to seize something suddenly. This lift is done with tremendous power and speed, the bar being lifted from the floor to arms length overhead in one motion, a motion which generally takes less than a second. Amazingly, the heaviest male weightlifters in the world are able to snatch more than 210kg. (nearly 500 lb). It takes a truly strong person to even move 500 lb. from the floor, yet these incredible athletes lift such weights overhead – in a flash! And even men in the lightest bodyweight category, who weigh barely 120 lb. can elevate more than 137kg. (300 lb.) in this lift!
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Second Lift: The Clean and Jerk
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The Clean and Jerk is the second lift in Weightlifting competition and is the one in which the most weight can be lifted. In this event, the barbell is lifted overhead in two continuous motions – the clean, which brings the bar to the shoulders, and the jerk, in which the athlete raises the bar overhead. Here too, the weights handled by the world’s best lifters are incredible, with the heaviest male weightlifters in the world able to C&J more than 260 kg.(nearly 600 lb), and even men in the lightest bodyweight category approaching 400 lb. in this lift! Similarly, the women in their heaviest bodyweight category C&J more than 400 lb., and even the lightest women are approaching nearly 300 lb.
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