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Maggie Hendricks

Average sports fan's guide to weightlifting

Fourth-Place Medal

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How can you not like a sport when one of the events is called the snatch? Weightlifting, one of the few Olympic sports that has been around since the first games in 1896, is in a bit of a crisis. Doping has knocked some of the best competitors, and even a few complete teams, out of the games this year. The loss of some of the top competitors due to doping does open the door for some Americans. Actually, the doped-up weightlifters probably knocked the door down in a 'roid rage, but nonetheless, the U.S. benefits. Yay!

First, you should know the two types of lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch, my new favorite Olympic event, is lifting the barbells straight from the ground up over the head. The two-step lift is the clean and jerk, where the barbell is first lifted to the shoulders, and then overhead.

Weightlifting was once dominated by the United States, but now the best teams are from Bulgaria and Greece. Coincidentally, Bulgaria and Greece are also the two teams that have been hit hardest by doping allegations. (I know, I'm shocked, too.) Bulgaria is not sending a team at all, and Greece, where weightlifting is ridiculously popular, is only sending four competitors. That does not mean that there won't be some fantastic weightlifters in Beijing. Hossein Rezazadeh, the "Iranian Hercules," is set to break records and Turkey's Halil Mutlu will go for his fourth gold medal, the first time a weightlifter has ever had a chance for four golds.

For the United States, bronze medalist Cheryl Haworth's chances improved when China did not enter a lifter in her weight class. Haworth and Melanie Roach, the first American woman to clean and jerk twice her body weight, are the best shots for a women's medal. Chad Vaughn, an Olympian in 2004, leads the men's squad.

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