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D. Rigert, USSR

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History of Olympic Weightlifting

It's almost impossible to trace an exact date of the first weightlifting championship. Tests of human strength, in one form or another, are probably older than civilization itself. Images of athletes lifting heavy objects, apparently for sport, appear in ancient Egyptian records, in Chinese texts and in Greek carvings.

The first organized weightlifting competitions began in Europe in the late 1800's, and the sport's first world champion was crowned in 1891. In those unsophisticated days there were no divisions, the world crown went to the man able to lift the most weight, regardless of his own size.

Weightlifting was on the program for the first Games in 1896, as part of athletics, but was left out of the 1900 Games. It reappeared in 1904 but didn't return to the Olympic fold again until 1920 when it was admitted in its own right. In those early days, Olympic weightlifting incorporated some events which would seem strange today. The first competitions consisted of one and two-handed lifts with no weight divisions.

But by 1932 five weight divisions had been established and three disciplines made up the competition - press, snatch and clean-and-jerk. In 1972 the press was abolished, leaving the snatch and clean and jerk as the sport's two Olympic disciplines. The women's competition made its Olympics debut in 2000 in Sydney.

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