The lines are closed, the votes are tallied, and the International Weightlifting Federation has announced the 2017 IWF Lifters of the Year: Georgia’s Lasha Talakhade, +105kg weight class and Spain’s Lydia Valentin Perez, -75kg weight class.
The competition was pretty fierce this year, and the public was asked to pick one athlete of each sex one month after the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships came to a close. There were ten athletes in total, each of whom won the world champion title for their weight class. You can see the full list of nominees here, which included Sohrab Moradi, Sarah Robles, and 2016’s Lifter of the Year Sopita Tanasan.
[Check out our interview with Tanasan to learn how she incorporates Buddhist meditation into her training.]
Both the male and the female categories received 23,301 votes. Valentin won by an enormous margin, receiving more votes than the four runners up combined: 16,406. Second place went to Taiwanese athlete Kuo Hsing-Chun with 2,917 votes, followed by Sarah Robles of the United States with 1,606.
The men’s side was a much closer call. Talakhadze received 9,804 votes while second place finisher Ihab Mahmoud got 8,491 votes and Sohrab Moradi came third with 3,142.
The IWF has held the Lifter of the Year competition since 1982, though it only opened to female athletes in 1991. This is the first year that an athlete from Georgia won the award, and deservedly so: in Anaheim, Talakhadze made the heaviest snatch of all time with 220kg, set a world record in the total with 477kg, and took home gold for his 257kg clean & jerk. (You can watch all of his lifts here.)
While Valentin didn’t break any world records, she has had an incredible career in the sport, having won three Olympic medals (including gold in London), plus she took home gold at the 2017 European Championships for her 137kg clean & jerk and a 252kg total. In Anaheim, she won her weight class with a 118kg snatch, a 140kg clean & jerk, and a 258kg total — a total that was eighteen kilograms higher than second place finisher Neisi Dajomes.
Congratulations to both winners; we’re looking forward to their performances in 2018.
Featured image via @iwfnet and @lashatalakhadzesport on Instagram.