IWF Updates Rio Start List, Which Could Shake Up These Weight Classes

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has released an updated entry list for Rio 2016, and the changes signal some new potential favorites in several weight classes. The original, preliminary entry list was released on July 21st.

There were changes in most weight classes — several due to the Russian Federation’s spots being reallocated after the full team’s ban — and we’ve highlighted a few of the more notable changes below.

In the Men’s 56kg class, Tom Richard Goegebuer of Belgium is a new addition to the list. Goegebuer — who turned 41 earlier this year — is the oldest weightlifting competitor in Rio. He’s the 2009 European Champion and finished 12th in the category at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

China’s Zhihui Hou was originally one of our correspondent’s picks for gold in the 48kg class. However, she does not appear on the revised start list, her spot instead going to China’s Meng Suping in the +75kg class.

Hou’s more recent international totals made her the presumptive favorite for gold in the 48kg class. But while it may at first seem strange for China to swap out a lifter favored to win, her replacement — Suping — is perhaps even better positioned for an Olympic championship.

Suping is a former world record holder in the +75kg class clean & jerk and was the silver medalist at the 2010, 2014, and 2015 World Championships, finishing each time behind Tatiana Kashirina.

However, due to Russia’s exclusion from weightlifting in Rio (and prior to that, a doping suspension from 2008-2010 that would also have kept her out due to a special provision applying only to Russian athletes), the women’s superheavyweight class is much more wide open.

Suping and Kashirina are capable of significantly more in both lifts than every other woman on the start list. We won’t see a battle between them for Olympic gold, which should make winning a relatively textbook matter for Suping, assuming she totals anywhere near what she’s done in prior international competitions.

Suping’s inclusion in the Games could also make American Sarah Robles’ medal chances more difficult.

A video of Suping matching the current clean & jerk world record (held by none other than Kashirina) is embedded below. The lift was performed at Chinese Nationals in the Sprint of 2015.