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Top weightlifters to watch in Rio

Leo Mason

Top weightlifters to watch in Rio

Here are five big weightlifting names to keep an eye on at the Rio Games. 

Dozens of athletes will compete in the weightlifting competitions at the Rio Games, but some are more recognizable than others. Here are five weightlifters you should keep an eye on at the upcoming Olympics.


  • American Kendrick Farris competes in his third Olympics 

U.S. weightlifter Kendrick Farris. Credit: Tom Szczerbowski

Louisiana’s Kendrick Farris made his Olympic debut at Beijing 2008, where he placed eighth in the 85kg (187 lbs) division with a personal best 362.0kg (798 lbs). He followed up the performance at London 2012, finishing tenth in the same weight class with a 355.0kg (782 lbs) lift. Now 30 years old, Farris will compete in the 94kg (207 lbs) category at the Rio Games in August.

Farris describes himself as “a person who just seeks truth”. In a recent interview with NBC Olympics, the weightlifter discussed how he hopes to inspire others: “Getting on the podium and having a lot of people talk about that, that would be great, but for me it isn’t all about that,” he said. “I’m going to show people a champion’s spirit either way.” 

  • Super heavyweight Sarah Robles returns to the Olympics

U.S. super heavyweight lifter Sarah Robles will compete at the Rio Games. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Super heavyweight (75+kg/165+lbs) lifter Sarah Robles made her Olympic debut at the London 2012 Games, where she performed better than any other American – finishing seventh in her category with a 265.0kg (584 lbs) total lift. At the most recent World Championships in 2015, she finished in eighth place. 

Robles is arguably the best chance the United States has at earning a medal in Rio. Just before the London Games in 2012, Buzzfeed referred to her as “the strongest woman in America”. 

Who is ... Sarah Robles

Learn more about lifter Sarah Robles, who was the highest-ranking American in her sport at the London 2012 Games.

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  • London 69kg gold medalist Rim Jong-Sim bumps up to 75kg

North Korea's lifter Rim Jong-Sim was severely injured at the 2015 World Championships. Credit: Thomas Shea

Even though it didn’t actually occur at the Games, North Korea’s Rim Jong-Sim embodied the “Olympic spirit” at the 2015 World Championships. Halfway through her lifts at the Houston-based competition, Rim tore a hip muscle. Defying doctor’s orders, she completed her performance – injuring her knee in the process. While the resilient Rim earned 75kg (165 lbs) silver, she had to be lifted onto the podium to receive her medal. 

World records fall at Weightlifting World Championships

The 2015 World Championships, held in Houston, are perhaps the best indicator for the Rio Games

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Previously, Rim won 69kg (152 lbs) gold at the London Games. She is slated to compete in the 75kg division at the Rio Olympics.

  • Super heavyweight Behdad Salimi goes for second straight gold

Super heavyweight weightlifter Olympic gold medalist Behdad Salimi.

Super heavyweight weightlifter Olympic gold medalist Behdad Salimi. Credit: Richard Mackson

Iran’s Behdad Salimi won gold in the super heavyweight category (105+kg/231 lbs) at his debut Olympics in London; he lifted an astounding 455kg (1003 lbs) total, or approximately two and a half times his body weight. Previously, the grand Salimi broke a world record in 2011 with a 214kg (471 lbs) snatch (one of the two types of Olympic lifts, involving hoisting the bar from the ground to overhead in a single, continuous motion).  

Unfortunately, Salimi tore his ACL late last year and was forced to miss the World Championships in Houston. After months of recovery, he looks to defend his gold medal in Rio. 

  • Lasha Talakhadze looks to become “world’s strongest man” 

Super heavyweight lifter Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia (the country) could become "the world's strongest man". Credit: Thomas Shea

Last November, Georgia’s super heavyweight lifter Lasha Talakhadze walked away from the 2015 World Championships a silver medalist. He was unable to outperform Russia’s Aleksey Lovchev. But a drug test soon revealed Lovchev had used performance enhancing drugs, stripping the Russian of his medal and promoting Talakhadze to gold.

Fun fact

Though Lasha Talakhadze competed in the senior World Championships in 2011, he also competed in the Junior World Championships in 2013.

Only 22 years old, Talakhadze will make his Olympic debut in Rio. His World Championships total, 454.0kg (1001 lbs), is just one kilogram away from Salimi’s gold medal-winning 455.0kg (1003 lbs) total at the London Games. 


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