Will the IWF Announce an 8th Women’s Weight Class in 2016?

The first Women’s World Weightlifting Championship was held in 1987, and women lifted at the Olympics for the first time at the 2000 Sydney Games. But while the sport’s popularity has skyrocketed for female competitors in recent years, there’s still not parity at the international level; women have one fewer weightlifting weight class than men, and under the current rules, countries are allowed to bring fewer women than men to international competitions. From the IWF website:

At IWF Events and other competitions each country may enter a team of maximum ten (10) men and nine (9) women athletes but may participate with a team of maximum eight (8) men and seven (7) women athletes only, spread over the different categories with a maximum of two (2) athletes per category.

In Olympic competition, countries can qualify a maximum of six men but only four women weightlifters.

But according to a post on Reddit’s weightlifting subreddit, that may be changing soon. On May 24th, user super-heavyweight posted that, pending an official announcement from the IWF, they have heard about the organization’s plan to introduce a new female weight class between the 75kg and 75+kg divisions. The post is partially excerpted below:

An official announcement has yet to be made, but I can confirm that the IWF intends to introduce an eighth weight-class for women. The change will be ratified at the IWF World Congress that will be held later this year (after the Olympic Games).

The new weight-class will be created between the 75kg and 75+kg divisions and will bring the total number of women’s weight-classes into parity with the men.

While the claim is still unconfirmed — and we likely won’t hear much until after the Rio Olympic Games — the new class could be a welcome addition to women’s competition. Right now, the cutoff between heavyweight and superheavyweight (no bodyweight maximum) stands at 75 kilograms, meaning any woman who weighs in over 165 pounds is classified as a superheavyweight.

Some argue that creates a difficult situation for taller athletes or women whose lifting weight may naturally fall between, say, 170 and 220 pounds — they either need to find a way to get under 75 kilos or compete in a division with competitors who may outweigh them by 100 pounds or more.

Exactly where the new weight class would fall — and whether it will even happen — is all speculation at this point. It’s also unclear if an additional weight class would mean the IWF tweaks all female weight classes — above and below 75kg — in order to create a more even spread of competitors across bodyweights. And a weight class restructuring would likely bring with it a World Record reset as well.

Do you think the IWF should introduce a non-superheavy class above 75kg? Where should that cutoff be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.