The Chinese weightlifting team is a seemingly-bottomless pit of top-tier talent. On July 7, 2022, a video was posted to Instagram showcasing a Chinese weightlifter named Luo Shifang crushing a 150-kilogram (330.6-pound) split jerk off blocks.
The video in question was published by Yilin Yang, a videographer and documentarian from China who posts weightlifting content under the handle “Squat Jerk Journalist.” Despite having limited international competitive experience, Shifang’s training lift exceeds the current 59-kilogram clean & jerk World Record by 10 kilograms.
The lift was documented as part of a short news excerpt from China Central Television (CCTV). The Chinese coaches were interviewed about their plans for the upcoming 2022 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Weightlifting Championships.
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While Yang regularly publishes footage from various Chinese camps and training programs, the weight on Shifang’s barbell has not been formally verified, nor has the athlete herself commented on it publicly. A split jerk from blocks is also not directly comparable to a competition clean & jerk, in which the athlete must first lift the barbell from the floor to their collarbones in one motion.
Shifang’s barbell appears to be loaded with one blue disc, two yellow discs, one green disc, one white disc, and one 2.5-kilogram red change plate on each side. If she’s working on a women’s weightlifting bar, which weighs 15 kilograms (33 pounds), the total weight clocks in at 150 kilos.
According to the IWF’s athlete registry, Shifang has only logged one international competition, an appearance at the 2017 Asian Youth & Junior Championships as a 58-kilogram lifter. Per Yang’s social media caption, Shifang’s current weight class is 59 kilograms — the current World Record clean & jerk stands at 140 kilograms (308.6 pounds), held by Kuo Hsing-Chun of Chinese Taipei.
Team China’s World Championships Training
The CCTV’s segment on Team China’s preparation for the 2022 World Weightlifting Championships highlighted how the winningest country in the sport — China won more than double the amount of medals (54 altogether) as the runner-up North Korean team in 2019 — is approaching this year’s event in Colombia.
Per the closed-caption translation of the YouTube video (note that publisher Yang admits his translation is “not 100% perfect”), the Chinese team is focusing on improving their conditioning ahead of Worlds.
The segment showed various Chinese weightlifters (Shifang included) performing an assortment of different lifts, including big back and front squats, lat pulldowns, and band-assisted mobilization work.
“There should have been a lot of competitions in China this year, but it was all cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our athletes won’t get to accumulate competition experience, which is a huge loss…we will do some internal competitions in Beijing to help prepare the athletes,” CCTV was told by head Chinese team coach Yu.
According to the translated captions, Yu also intends to use the 2022 World Championships to sharpen the Chinese roster with the younger, up-and-coming athletes on the team “applying pressure” on its veterans.
Waiting in the Wings
If Shifang’s World-Record-besting block jerk is legitimate, it serves as a reminder that China maintains the most extensive and robust weightlifting roster globally. Chinese athletes regularly display podium-quality lifting on social media, but even World Champions like Tian Tao are sometimes sidelined for big competitions.
The country’s cutthroat approach to weightlifting has paid off in spades. China has won more medals than any other country at every World Championships since 2006. With athletes like Shifang waiting in the wings, it’s no surprise they’re bringing home the gold.
The 2022 World Weightlifting Championships were initially slated to be held in Chongqing, China, but pandemic-related complications have forced the event to relocate to Bogotá, Colombia. At the time of this article’s publication, the exact dates for the competition have not been released by the IWF.
Featured Image: @squat_jerk_journalist on Instagram