Sep 12

Did You See Her Snatch!?

Today’s post is dedicated to the women of weightlifting (WoW)! A sport that historically has been dominated by men (women’s weightlifting wasn’t contested in the Olympics until 2000), and in general is not covered much by the media has limited the endorsement of females in the sport.  In the last five years CrossFit has certainly helped the sport grow, but still the stars of the show tend to be the males.  In every group page or website dedicated to weightlifting that I follow, the videos posted are almost always of the top males.  Don’t get me wrong, these videos are amazing, and who wouldn’t want to watch Dmitry Klokov catapult hundreds of pounds overhead seemingly effortlessly? But the videos that are the most inspiring to me, are the ladies. And if you want to become a better weightlifter, watching videos of the top athletes is a great way to help your form, especially if you are watching lifters with a similar physical structure.

Christmas Abbott, a competitive weightlifter and top level CrossFitter goes for a snatch PR at the CrossFit Mid-Atlantic Regional.

The most well known female wightlifters are the Chinese. Selected at a young age to begin training for this highly technical sport, they follow an exhaustive training regiment for years. Although they only took home two golds from London after a disappointing showing by Jun Zhou in the 53 Kg class, they have some of the top talent in the sport today. Here is Mingjuan Wang, a 48 Kg lifter (106 lb) easily snatching 93 Kg (205 lb) three years ago at Worlds.

One of my favorite lifters is Boyanka Kostova, a 58 Kg lifter formerly lifting for Bulgaria, now lifts for Azerbaijan. She is one of only a few lifters who uses the power jerk instead of the split jerk.

Two of my long time favorite lifters are Lidia Valentin and Maria De La Puente out of Spain. This video from the 2008 European Championships shows some excellent lifting from De La Puente and Germany’s Julia Rohde as they battle it out in the 53 Kg class.

Noticeably, none of the lifters covered so far have been from the good ol’ U.S. of A. What gives?  In general, the US hasn’t had a history of producing top weightlifting talent as consistently as most other nations.  While we did send two women to the 2012 Olympics, Sarah Robles and Holly Mangold, we have only won two Olympic medals in 12 years, both of those in the inaugural 2000 games. Many things contribute to this, but I’d speculate the sport’s lack of popularity and in turn a lack of facilities and coaches are key factors.  Most women have never even heard of weightlifting, and there aren’t many programs developing female weightlifters.  However, the sport is certainly growing in the States these days, and one of the coaches leading the charge is Glenn Pendlay and his team MDUSA out of South Carolina, formerly out of Cal Strength.

Another top level coach is Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics in California. His wife, Aimee Everett was a 2007 National champion.


Aimee sets-up for a snatch.

In my own experience, I have noticed that even in just the last couple of years local meets have seen a considerable increase in female competitors.  A search just two or three years ago for gyms with a dedicated weightlifting coach/program resulted in very few options, even in the large metro area where I live. Today, it takes both hands to count the number of programs available in the area. As the sport continues to grow, the US women’s talent will undoubtedly grow with it.

Weightlifting is an amazing sport, if any readers are interested in getting involved but have questions, feel free to post to comments or contact me directly.


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