Weightlifter Rebeka Koha of Latvia Retires at Age 22

The reigning 2-time IWF European champion is walking away from weightlifting.

Rebeka Koha of Latvia has decided to retire from the sport of weightlifting at the age of 22. Koha competed in the -53kg, -58kg, and -59kg weight classes during her career, as well as one appearance at -48kg in the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

Initially reported by Public Broadcasting of Latvia, the Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK) said that Koha’s retirement was announced in the morning of August 5th.

One of her coaches, 2-time Olympic medalist weightlifter at -105kg Viktors Ščerbatihs, cited knee pain Koha had been dealing with as a reason for her retirement. Another one of her coaches, Eduards Andruškevičs — a former Latvian weightlifting champion — said that the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games also had some influence in Koha’s decision. 

An official written form will be received by the Latvian Olympic Association (LOV) from Koha by September first to halt “funding”, according to the statement shared on Twitter by LOV Chair Einars Fogelis:

Editor’s note: Translated from Latvian via Twitter.

Today, during a video conference, [Rebeka] Koha announced that she was ending her career as an athlete. Respecting Rebeka’s choice and saying thank you for [her] work, we agreed that by [9/1], we will receive a written application for withdrawal from the LOV and suspension of funding .


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[Related: Olympians Oleksiy Torokhtiy and Rebeka Koha Teach the Snatch]

The Career of Rebeka Koha

Although Koha, who was named to Forbes Latvia 30 Under 30 list at age 21, is ending her career sooner than expected, her resume is stacked with major accomplishments in the sport. She won the bronze at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in the -48kg weight class with a total of 165kg/363.8lb when she was 16 years old. She made her debut at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Weightlifting World Championships in 2014 and has competed in the event every year since. Her top finishes came in 2017 and 2018 where she scored back-to-back bronze medals.

In 2017 and 2018, the Latvian weightlifter won gold at the IWF Youth Weightlifting World Championships. Her first appearance at the Olympic Games was in Rio in 2016 where she narrowly missed the podium with a fourth place finish after totaling 197kg/434lb — 2kg/4.4lb shy of bronze medalist Yoon Jin-hee of South Korea’s 199kg/438.7lb total.

Koha’s retirement means that she will not attempt to three-peat at the IWF European Weightlifting Championships after winning gold in both 2018 and 2019 in the -58kg and -59kg classes, respectively. She also holds a bronze medal from 2016 and a silver medal from 2017 in that event.

Feature image from Lielbāta’s Instagram page: @lielbata.lv