International weightlifting’s superheavyweight category has been packed with news the last couple years, from Behdad Salimi‘s knee injury to Aleksey Lovchev‘s clean & jerk World Record (and subsequent sanction for doping). So it’s been fairly easy to overlook some seriously impressive performances from the non-World Record holders still putting up huge numbers. And we’ve been all too quick to forget about the other Russian +105kg World Champion: Ruslan Albegov. But Albegov’s recent win at Russian Nationals should put to rest any doubt as to whether he’s a threat at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

Albegov is 28 years old and still in the prime of his career, but weightlifting is very much framed around “what have you done for me lately.” So while his back-to-back world championships in 2013 and 2014 are darn impressive, Albegov wasn’t back in the spotlight until this past weekend, where he went 190, 200, 205x in the snatch and 230, 245, 255 in the clean & jerk.

His final clean & jerk is embedded below, video from All Things Gym:

The 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist looks strong and consistent in his clean & jerks, and if it weren’t for 22 year old World Champion Lasha Talakhadze, we’d call Albegov our frontrunner for Rio. And while Albegov’s 455 total is one of the largest we’ve seen in competition the past year, Talakhadze still managed a ridiculously easy looking 463 at the 2016 European Weightlifting Championships — including a European Record 212 kilogram snatch.

If Talakhadze has a good day in the snatch portion of competition, he’ll be tough to catch on the clean & jerk (though we’ve seen crazier things happen in the final session Olympic competition).

With Salimi’s return in time for Rio questionable, and Lovchev’s sanction looking like it will almost certainly be upheld, the 2016 Olympic superheavy battle could come down to Talakhadze v. Albegov for gold. Also notable is Armenia’s Gor Minasyan, who finished with a 442 total at the 2016 Europeans.

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BarBend's Co-Founder and Editorial Director, David is a veteran of the health & fitness industry, with nearly a decade of experience building and running editorial teams in the space. He also serves as a color commentator for both National and International weightlifting competitions, many through USA Weightlifting. David graduated from Harvard University and served for several years as Editorial Director/Chief Content Officer of Greatist.com. In addition to his work in the health & fitness industry, David has been a writer for Fortune and Fortune.com, as well as a contributor to Forbes.com, Slate, and numerous other outlets across the web and in print. He's especially passionate about the intersection of strength sports and quality, professional media coverage — overlapping interests shared by the BarBend editorial team and which drive their content strategy each and every day. David is a proud Kentucky native. In his free time, David is a voiceover actor and can be heard in animated films, independent shorts, music videos, commercials, and podcasts.