With just about two years until the commencement of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, many of the world’s best weightlifters are beginning to stake their claims regarding which weight classes they’ll compete in.
On July 11, 2022, current Olympic Champion Lu Xiaojun of China announced that he will seek a fourth appearance at the Games in 2024.
As explained in an Instagram post by Xiaojun’s lifting equipment manufacturer @LUXIAOJUNBARBELL, the winner of the 81-kilogram division at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has taken a reprieve from training for nearly a full year after his top-of-the-podium performance in Japan.
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In his speech, Xiaojun remarked that he feels he has an obligation to continue his weightlifting career and support his home country:
“Hello everyone! I am Chinese weightlifter Lu Xiaojun. I would like to officially announce today I will start preparing for Paris 2024. This will be my fourth Olympics. It is my duty to persevere and show the strength of China. I hope you will support me,” Xiaojun told the camera.
Although Xiaojun didn’t verbally specify which weight category he’ll compete in at Paris (should he qualify), the caption of the Instagram post does note that his current body weight is “around 74 kilograms”, or 163.1 pounds.
Lu Xiaojun’s Olympic Career
Since his first appearance at an International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) competition in 2004, Xiaojun has maintained his status as one of Team China‘s most consistent, reliable, and high-performing weightlifters.
Xiaojun has claimed scores of individual World Records in the sport as well as three gold-medal performances at the Games:
Xiaojun at the Olympics
- 2012 London Olympics: 379KG Total at 77KG (Gold)
- 2016 Rio Olympics: 379KG Total at 77KG (Silver)*
- 2020 Tokyo Olympics: 374KG Total at 81KG (Gold)
*Note: Although Xiaojun placed second in Rio on the day, then-gold-medalist Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan was retroactively sanctioned for performance-enhancing drugs, forfeiting his Olympic medal to Xiaojun.
As of July 12, 2022, this adjustment has not yet been reflected in the IWF’s athlete registry.
Xiaojun vs. Who?
Xiaojun is older than many of his contemporaries on the world stage. At 37 (Xiaojun will turn 38 on July 27, 2022) years of age, he is already eligible to compete as a Master’s athlete.
Should he turn up in Paris, Xiaojun would likely compete right around his 40th birthday against athletes much younger than himself.
Further, his prior weight class of 81 kilograms is not a recognized category in Paris. As such, Xiaojun, like many of his peers, will have to move up or down in weight if he wants to compete at the Olympics.
With Xiaojun currently sitting at 74 kilograms’ body weight, it is reasonable to assume he will move into the Paris-recognized 73-kilogram category. Doing so would pit him against teammate and two-time Olympic Champion Shi Zhiyong.
Should Xiaojun reach the podium in Paris at all, he would join Pyrros Dimas as the most decorated weightlifter in Olympics history (Dimas owns three gold medals and one bronze). If he wins the gold medal, Xiaojun would have a nearly-unassailable case as one of — if not the — greatest weightlifters ever.
Featured Image: @luxiaojunbarbell on Instagram