Athletes grunt, yell and do whatever it takes to prepare themselves to lift heavy weight on the world’s biggest stage. Sometimes their adrenaline-fueled screams are louder than the sound of the barbell slamming onto the platform.
Leave the silence for other sports.
Weightlifting is one of the oldest sports in the Olympics and while it’s one of the lesser knowns, it’s quite a crowd pleaser. Just listen to the way spectators react when an athlete stomps their feet and shouts before a lift.
Competition starts Aug. 6 in Rio de Janeiro. Here are some things to know:
Weightlifters get three attempts in each of the two types of lift. In the snatch, the bar is lifted overhead in one continuous motion. The clean and jerk is performed in two moves: the lifter first pulls the bar to shoulder height while in a squat, then rises and pushes it overhead.
The elbows need to lock for a successful lift. The total score combines the weights lifted in the best snatch and the best clean and jerk.
Each athlete only gets six lifts, so picking the right weights is crucial. If they start too low, medals could be out of reach. If they start too high, they may crash out without a result.
North Korea’s Om Yun-chol is the front-runner to win another gold in men’s 56-kilogram category, the lightest weight class. China’s Liao Hui, a 2008 champion at 69 kg, returns after missing the London Games because of a doping ban. Lu Xiaojun, another Chinese champ, is a best bet to win at 77 kg. On the women’s side, North Korea’s Rim Jong Sim (69 kg) returns to defend her gold.
Bulgaria’s team was barred from the Olympics after 11 of its lifters received doping bans last year. Yulia Kalina, a Ukrainian bronze winner in the women’s 58-kilogram division, was the first athlete disqualified. Four Olympic gold medalists from Kazakhstan and medalists from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus have already been provisionally suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation. Entire teams from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Azerbaijan could be barred because three or more positive cases from each country were discovered during retests.
China led the way in 2012 with seven medals, including five gold. Russia was next with six, five silver and one bronze. Kazakhstan won four gold.
Morghan King, Jenny Arthur, Sarah Robles and Kendrick Farris will represent the United States. Robles finished seventh in 2012 in the super heavyweight class. Arthur was the first American to qualify and will compete as a heavyweight. King (48 kg) is also making her Olympic debut. Farris, the only men’s representative, finished eighth in 2008 and 10th in 2012.
Riocentro already hosted weightlifting competitions at the 2007 Pan-American Games. Pavilion 2 has a gross capacity of approximately 5,900.
—By ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer