On the final day of the 2019 European Weightlifting Championships in Batumi, Georgia, the two superheayweight World Champions put on a show and sent a simple message: they are in the home stretch to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and they expect to be champions.
The day started with Tatiana Kashirina. The 5-time World Champion and 2012 Olympic Silver medalist won her 8th European crown in a dominant showing. She was successful on 5 of her 6 attempts, including a snatch of 146KG (321 lb), Clean & Jerk of 185KG (407 lb), and a Total of 331KG (728 lb). In the process, she reset her own existing World Records in the snatch and total by 1KG, and tied her current world record – which she set 5 months ago at the 2018 World Championships in Turkmenistan.
This marked a comeback of sorts for Kashirina, who last competed in February at the IWF World Cup in China. An apparent back injury caused her to total ONLY 323KG, where she placed 3rd behind Chinese superstar Meng Suping and upcoming junior athlete Li Wenwen.
An excellent showing was need to start the justification process towards her 2020 Olympic berth. Russia is facing down the reality that they will have only 1 male and 1 female athlete in Olympic Weightlifting based on the results of drug testing re-analysis since the 2008 Olympic Games. They are in the same situations as the weightlifting federations of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Armenia.
Granted, her overall numbers were down compared to the 2014 Worlds, where she lifted a massive 348KG total on lifts of 155KG in the snatch and 193KG in the clean & jerk. However, with roughly 15 months until the Olympic Games, she removed a lot of doubt about who deserves that Olympic spot.
The day finished with the most anticipated session of the competition: the men’s superheavyweight category and the home country’s defending World and Olympic champion, Lasha Talakhadze. Even before the session started, the European Weightlifting Federation website, which had been streaming B&C sessions and showing a live scoreboard, crashed due to heavy traffic to the site. Russian coach Kazbek Zoloev streamed the event on Instagram with many big lifts remaining (including all of Lasha’s competition).
The 25-year-old Talakhadze easily won his 4th European Championship to go along with his 3 World Titles and 2016 Olympic Gold medal. Needing only 4 attempts, he finished the day with a 218KG (480lb) snatch, 260KG (572lb) Clean & Jerk, and 478KG (1045 lb) Total. He finished his competition with 2 new World records – a 3 KG increase to his own record in the Clean & Jerk, and a 1 KG increase to his own record in the total, both of which he set at the 2018 World Championships in Turkmenistan.
Talakhadze continues to make history with every competition he is part of. He owns the heaviest snatch in the history of the world with 220KG, which he set at the 2017 World Championships in Anaheim.
At those 2017 World Championships, he totaled 477KG – which was the largest total ever in the history of the sport before his performance in Batumi. Including the 2016 Olympic Games, he has totaled 470KG or more in 4 competitions. The scary part for the rest of the superheavyweight category is that the champ easily looks good for a larger total.
In the clean and jerk, 260KG is only 4KG less than the largest official lift in international competition. The unofficial record of 266KG is held by Soviet / Belorussian Olympic Champion Leonid Taranenko, who accomplished this in 1988 at an invitational competition in Australia. The way Talakhadze competed today, these lifts seem in striking distance for him at the 2019 World Championships in Thailand or most likely on the biggest stage of all, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Featured image: @iwfnet on Instagram