The initial start list for the 2017 European Weightlifting Championships has been released, and weightlifting fans the world over are in for a great competition if everyone on the list is able to compete. The competition will be held April 2nd to 8th of this year in Split, Croatia, which is about 5 hours south of the capital city of Zagreb on the Adriatic Sea.
While the start list will undoubtedly undergo changes over the next five weeks, there are many big weightlifting names included; which is unusual for an international competition that is occurring less than a year after the Olympic Games. Below are some of the storylines to watch over the next 5 weeks.
Returning to the Platform after a Two Year Suspension
Returning to the international platform after a two year suspension is Daniel Godelli, the 77KG former World Championship medalist from Albania. He is entered with the highest entry total of 362KG (796lb) in this category. At the 2014 World Championships in Almaty, Godelli won the 77KG World Championship with a 369KG (812) total, in the process becoming the first Albanian to win a world championship in any Olympic sport, let alone Olympic Weightlifting. He later would receive a two year suspension and a loss of results for testing positive for Stanozolol; his suspension finished in October of 2016.
Also returning after a similar drug suspension is Ivan Markov. The two-time 85KG silver medalist from Bulgaria is back in international competition after a one year suspension. He is entered with the second highest entry total of 375KG (825lb) in the 85KG category. Markov placed second at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships and won the 2014 European Championships. His best total in that time period was 390KG (858lb) which he totaled at the 2014 World Championships. Markov tested positive for Stanozolol in out of competition testing in 2015, and he received a one year suspension that ended in September of 2016. It was his second positive test in his weightlifting career; in 2008 he was one of 11 Bulgarian athletes who tested positive leading up to the Beijing Olympics; Bulgaria withdrew their team from the competition and Markov received a four year suspension that ended in 2012.
As of this start list, which most likely will change several times over the next five weeks, the Russian Weightlifting program is sending many of their top athletes to compete. Less than a month ago Maxim Agapitov, the newly elected president of the Russian Weightlifting Federation, met with Dr. Tamas Ajan, the president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and formally withdrew an appeal of their one year ban from international competition due to multiple doping violations.
This brings up more questions; however, if Russian athletes are competing at the European Championships, that likely means their one year ban has not begun yet. If it started in August of 2016 with the Olympics, then weightlifting fans would most likely see the Russian athletes compete in Anaheim at the 2017 World Championships to be held in November of this year. Regardless, this is the most interesting storyline at this point, because that will unleash a domino effect on future competitions.
Currently Russia is sending the “A” team of eligible athletes to compete in the competition. On the men’s side, this includes:
- Ruslan Albegov, 2013 & 2014 World Champion in the superheavyweight category. He won a bronze medal in the London Olympic Games
- Oleg Chen, 2014 European Champion, he won a silver medal at the World Championships in 2011, 2013, and 2015 at 69KG
- Artem Okulov, 2015 World Champion at 85KG, 2013, and 2014 Junior World Champion, 2010 Youth Olympic Games Champion
- David Bedzhanyan, two time European Champion in the 105KG category, and has won a medal at the last three World Championships. In 2014 he set a world record in the clean and jerk with 240KG (528lb) – only to have it broken on the next attempt by Ilya Ilyin
- Adam Maligov, placed second at the European Championships in 2014 as an 85KG athlete. He has totaled 397KG (873lb) as a 94KG athlete, where he is entered for this competition
On the woman’s side, the team is equally as impressive. It includes:
- Tatiana Kashirina, 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist in the 75+KG category, she also has won 4 World Championships and the 2015 Arnold Weightlifting Championships
- Tima Turieva, 2013 World Champion at 63KG and World Silver medalist in 2014 and 2015. She is the 2014 European Champion as well in this category.
- Anastasiia Romanova, Bronze medalist at the 2015 World Championships
Stay tuned over the next couple weeks as the IWF and the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) start to give more details on this topic.
Other Countries Facing Potential Ban
Russia is not the only country facing a potential ban due to alleged multiple doping violations coming out of reanalysis of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
According to the IWF, “national federations confirmed to have produced three or more anti-doping rule violations in the combined re-analysis process of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games shall be suspended for one year.” Other European nations that fall into this category as of today are Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus.
Turkey has entered a full team, however the roster is perhaps not as impressive as it has been in the past. On paper, their top athlete appears to be Bunyami Sezer, a 29 year old athlete in the 62KG category. He is tied as the top entry on the start list right now with a 290KG (638lb) entry total. Armenia also has entered a full team, led by 2016 Olympic Silver medalist Simon Martirosyan in the 105KG category. Belarus has not entered a team in any capacity and Azerbaijan has entered four athletes, all on the men’s side.
In addition to Russia’s two medalists from the 2012 Olympic Games, there are several athletes competing who won medals this past August in Rio. On the men’s side, Armenia will be bringing Martrosyan who won a silver medal at 105KG. They also have entered Gor Minasyan, who won a silver medal in Rio the super heavyweight category.
Speaking of superheavyweights, the country of Georgia has entered both of their heavyweights who also won medals in Rio. Irakli Turmanidze, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, is entered with a 430KG (946lb) entry total. His countryman, Olympic Champion and World Record holder Lasha Talakhadze, is tied for the highest entry total with 440KG (968lb). Talakhadze is also the reigning World Champion in his weight class.
On the woman’s side, Spain has entered three-time Olympic medalist Lydia Valentin in the 75KG category. The 31 year old who won a bronze medal in Rio has the third highest entry total with 230KG (506lb). She won the European Championships in 2014 and 2015, and was the 2014 Arnold Weightlifting Champion as well.
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