Watch Tian Tao Attempt a 215kg Clean & Jerk (at 17 Years Old!)

Tian Tao is one of the weightlifting world’s most exciting athletes to watch. Maybe it’s because of his near-superhuman strength. Maybe it’s because of the way he attacks the barbell with each attempt. Maybe it’s because of the heart-stopping drama that seems to follow him in competition.

What IS certain: The 22 year old Rio silver medalist in the men’s 85kg class has been a top prospect for some time. Recently, we came across a video of a 17 year old Tao attempting a 215kg clean & jerk while training as a 77kg lifter. For reference, this was a whopping 5kg over the weight class’ senior world record at the time, and 1kg over the current world record in that category.

At 17, most of us were still obsessed with video games, pre-smartphone communication, and pushing the limits of curfew on Friday nights. Tian Tao was going after world record and above weights in training.

We’re excited to see how Tao’s next few performances go on the international stage. He bombed out of the clean & jerks at the 2015 World Championships — after taking gold in the snatch — and earned silver in Rio after making only one attempt each in the snatch and clean & jerk.

He’s clearly one of his weight class’ strongest lifters, and when he’s on his game, he’s got speed, technique, and showmanship to rival just about anyone.

Featured image: @SirEoinMurphy on YouTube


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BarBend's Co-Founder and Editorial Director, David is a veteran of the health & fitness industry, with nearly a decade of experience building and running editorial teams in the space. He also serves as a color commentator for both National and International weightlifting competitions, many through USA Weightlifting. David graduated from Harvard University and served for several years as Editorial Director/Chief Content Officer of In addition to his work in the health & fitness industry, David has been a writer for Fortune and, as well as a contributor to, Slate, and numerous other outlets across the web and in print. He's especially passionate about the intersection of strength sports and quality, professional media coverage — overlapping interests shared by the BarBend editorial team and which drive their content strategy each and every day. David is a proud Kentucky native. In his free time, David is a voiceover actor and can be heard in animated films, independent shorts, music videos, commercials, and podcasts.