A record number of 50,514 weightlifting fans voted for the 2019 IWF World Weightlifter of the Year. It is certainly reassuring to see that weightlifting is still growing in popularity, despite recent troubles from within our sport.
Lasha Talakhadze (GEO +109kg)
This year Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze defended his title on the men’s side, winning for the third straight year, and becoming one of just three weightlifters ever to pull a sequential ‘three-peat’. The other two are Naim Suleymanoglu (BUL/TUR) and Hossein Rezazadeh (IRI).
Though Lasha had several record-breaking performances during 2019, including an all-time world record total of 478kg (218/260) at the European Championships in his home country, it was his performance at the 2019 World Championships that really sealed the deal.
After snatching a new world record of 220kg, four kilos more than the heaviest snatch performed by any other man in history, Lasha clean and jerked a 4kg world record at 264kg, the fifth heaviest clean and jerk of all-time (world records were wiped in 2017). His total of 484kg extends his lead over anyone ever by 8kg. Leonid Taranenko (USSR) sits in second place with 476kg (Canberra 1988).
Lasha won the Weightlifter of the Year award by an astonishing margin, securing 68% of the total male votes with 17,084. Included in the vote were Armenia’s Simon Martirosyan who secured 5,514 votes, China’s Lu Xiaojun and Shi Zhiyong who secured 2,169 and 1,053 votes respectively, and DPRK’s Om Yun Chol who took just 410 votes.
Despite Lu Xiaojun winning the World Championships at thirty-five years of age – an extraordinary ten years after winning his first – and setting a new world record and personal best in the clean and jerk at 207kg to clinch the win with an injured back, it is hard to argue against a man who just put forward a performance unbeaten by anyone ever.
Lasha Talakhadze, take a bow.
Katherine Nye (USA -71kg)
Kate Nye captured the hearts of the weightlifting world this year after her debut at the senior world championships, winning her first world title with a 112kg senior American record and junior world record snatch, a 137kg senior American record clean and jerk, and a 248kg Pan American record total.
Weightlifting House first interviewed kate Nye back in September of 2017 (podcast player below) when she was ‘merely’ a Jr American record holder. We have since recorded podcasts with her several more times, documenting her absolutely incredible journey. Though we made some bold predictions on that first-ever podcast I don’t think any of us – Kate included – could have predicted such a sensational rise to the top…
When we first interviewed Kate she had just snatched 96kg. Two years later to the day she snatched 112kg.
Kate managed to secure 9,105 votes, 37% of those cast. Behind her was Kuo Hsing-Chun (TPE) who received 7,755 votes, Leidy Solis (COL) who received 4,784, Deng Wei (CHN) who received 1,796, and Rim Jong Sim (DPRK) who received just 844.
Though there will always be those who complain about the low turn out in votes for World and Olympic Champion Deng Wei who set five new world records at the 2019 World Championships, Kate’s win in many ways shows the spirit of the sport and the love of the fans. Sometimes the rise of the underdog is the story the really captures the hearts of the fans.