On August 4, 2021, at the final weightlifting event of the 2020 Olympic Games, Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze set a slew of new records in the Men’s +109-kilogram category. By lifting a combined total of 488 kilograms (1075.8 pounds) via a 223-kilogram (491.6-pound) snatch and 265-kilogram (584.2-pound) clean & jerk, the 27-year-old super-heavyweight phenomenon won his second Olympic gold medal after placing first in Rio five years prior.
Lasha Talakhadze Tokyo 2020 Lifts
- Snatch — 208/215/223 kilograms (491.6 pounds) (Olympic Record, World Record)
- Clean & Jerk — 245/255/265 kilograms (584.2 pounds) (Olympic Record, World Record)
- Total — 488 kilograms (1075.8 pounds) (Olympic Record, World Record)
Talakhadze’s performance at his second Olympic Games bolstered the already strong case for him being the greatest weightlifter alive. Since his first gold medal at the World Weightlifting Championships (WWC) in 2015, he has flown to the top of the podium at every international event he has attended.
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No athlete in recent years has made a home of their weight class more than Talakhadze. The Georgian has spent the better part of the last six years evicting the tenants who had previously enjoyed a life of luxury at the top of the super-heavyweight division, such as Iran’s tenured Behdad Salimi and multi-world-record holder Alexsey Lovchev of Russia.
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With the possible exception of Armenia’s Gor Minasyan, who has logged multiple snatches above 210 kilograms internationally, no one has seemingly presented a threat to Talakhadze’s reign in weightlifting.
Following a reorganization of weight categories in 2018, many of the prominent contemporary athletes — China’s Shi Zhiyong, Neisi Dajomes of Ecuador, among others — have displayed incredibly impressive feats of strength in the new weight classes. However, their lifts are juxtaposed against the record holders of times past, who have often lifted more while weighing slightly less.
This technicality is not a factor when considering Talakhadze’s career. Not only has he lifted more weight than anyone else since 2018, but he has also, in literal terms, lifted more weight than any human being to ever compete in Olympic weightlifting.
Off of the competition platform, Talakhadze has boasted even higher training lifts. His 225-kilogram (496 pound) snatch and 270-kilogram (595.2 pound) clean & jerk are the heaviest ever caught on film.
Lasha Talakhadze International Wins
- European Junior Championships — 1 (2011)
- European Championships — 5 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021)
- Junior World Championships — 1 (2013)
- World Championships — 4 (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
The lone blemish on Talakhadze’s legendary career is a disqualification from the 2013 European Junior Championships following a positive doping test. He served a two-year ban for the drug stanozolol before returning to the World stage in 2015.
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Lasha Talakhadze Individual Records
- Snatch — 9
- Clean & Jerk — 4
- Total — 8
It is feasible to assume that, with no one approaching his level in the past five years, Talakhadze might take it easy on the competition platform. However, despite being the final athlete to appear in every meet he attends, and with no one to battle against on a lift-by-lift basis, he has still managed to consistently improve upon his own best results.
The Future of Weightlifting
With his resounding successes in Tokyo now added to his lifting belt, along with another Olympic gold around his neck, Talakhadze is expected to dominate the Men’s super-heavyweight division for the foreseeable future.
He seems to show no sign of slowing down on his campaign towards the mythical, as-of-yet unachieved 500-kilogram (1100 pound) total. With three years until the Paris Olympics in 2024, and weightlifting confirmed as a competitive event, fans and competitors alike will keep a watchful eye on the Georgian’s trajectory throughout the next qualification cycle.
Featured Image: Stephen Galvan for IWF