Liao Guifang (71KG) Scores Clean & Jerk and Total World Records at 2023 World Weightlifting Championships

Team China is dominating the stage at this year's World Championships.

Riyadh runs red. Halfway through the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) 2023 World Weightlifting Championships (WWC), Team China has amassed more gold medals than any other country — and it’s not close. On Wednesday, Sep. 13, China furthered their lead after weightlifter Liao Guifang set two new world records in the highly-competitive 71-kilogram Group A session.

Guifang, the expected favorite to win the session overall, went five-for-six on the day. She snatched 120 kilograms (264.5 pounds), clean & jerked 153 kilograms (377.3 pounds), for a Total of 273 kilos, or 601.8 pounds. The clean & jerk and Total marked two new Senior world records; the latest of several set in the 71s throughout 2023. 

[Check In: 2023 IWF World Weightlifting Championships Full Results]

Guifang had a dominant performance in Saudi Arabia, taking home gold medals across the board. Her 120-kilogram snatch fell just shy of the 121-kilogram world record owned by Ecuador’s Angie Palacios Dajomes, who took silver overall. American athlete Olivia Reeves rounded out the podium in third place.

2023 World Weightlifting Championships | Women’s 71-Kilogram

The 71-kilogram division of women’s weightlifting is one of a number of bodyweight categories that will be contested at the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, which kick off in less than a year. As such, the competition is tighter than ever, especially at prominent weightlifting events like the WWC. Here are the full podium results from the 71A session in Riyadh:

  1. Liao Guifang (CHN): 273KG WR (120/153 WR)
  2. Angie Palacios Dajomes (ECU): 255KG (117/138)
  3. Olivia Reeves (USA): 253KG (111/142)

A Shifting Landscape

Some divisions of Olympic lifting are, for the most part, predictable. Classes like the Women’s 49-kilogram and Men’s +109-kilogram are largely dominated by the same handful of athletes who each vie for the top of the podium. Other classes — such as the Women’s 71-kilogram — are far more tumultuous.

For the past six years, the top slots in the 71s have been in constant flux; as have the world records. At the 2022 WWC last year in Bogotá, Colombia, Romanian weightlifter Loredana Toma set a new world record in the snatch with 119 kilograms (Toma also won the competition outright).

Liao Guifang celebrates her clean & jerk world record.
Credit: William Johnson / @barbellstories

Fast forward a few months into the spring of ’23, and Guifang had inched that record forward by a kilo at the Asian Weightlifting Championships. A month after that, Palacios Dajomes pushed it up again, hitting 121 at the 2023 IWF Grand Prix I

The battle over the top of the 71-kilogram podium is even fiercer: Since the 71-kilo class was first established in 2018, a different athlete has won the Total gold medal at each yearly World Championships. Guifang reclaimed the class for China for the first time since 2018: 

Women’s 71-Kilogram | World Weightlifting Championships 2018 – 2023

  • 2018: Zhang Wangli (CHN)
  • 2019Kate Vibert (USA)
  • 2021Meredith Alwine (USA)
  • 2022: Loredana Toma (ROU)
  • 2023: Liao Guifang (CHN)

Note: The WWC was not held in 2020 due to it initially being an Olympic Games year in addition to complications surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guifang may be the latest to take the throne, but it seems unlikely that her reign will end anytime soon. She won the 2023 WWC by an 18-kilogram margin and set two new world records in the process. As it stands, an Olympic gold medal for China in the 71s seems like a sure thing. 

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Featured Image: William Johnson / @barbellstories