Why Chinese Weightlifters Are Dominant Favorites In Toyko

  • Li Fabin has -225 odds to win the Men’s 61kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
  • He joins three other Chinese weightlifters as the dominant favorites in their respective categories.
  • The most dominant of these, Shi Zhiyong, has -1400 odds to win his weight class.

TOKYO - Chinese weightlifters have dominated the world in recent years, and they’re expected to do so again in the Tokyo Olympics. From 61kg to 81kg on the men’s side, all four favorites are Chinese, and all of them are very serious favorites.

Intriguingly, China only sent competitors in these four categories on the men’s side, with no entrants in 96kg, 109kg and 109+kg.

Those familiar with weightlifting will recognize some of the names - Shi Zhiyong and Lu Xiaojun have been dominant for a long time now.

Still, although they are a big part of this dominant platoon of weightlifters, it’s not just them.

Tokyo 2021 - Men's 61kg

  • Li Fabin (CHN) -225
  • Eko Yuli Irawan (INA) +190
  • Kim Tuan Thach (VIE) +1600
  • Yoichi Itokazu (JPN) +3300
  • Igor Son (KAZ) +4000
  • Seraj Alsaleem (KSA) +5000
  • Shota Mishvelidze (GEO) +5000

In the 61kg category, Li Fabin is a -225 favorite and deserves such status. He dominated the 2019 Asian Championships, with the highest snatch, clean and jerk, and total.

In addition, he dominated the 2019 World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, once again clocking the highest snatch, clean and jerk and total in the 61kg category.

The major question in this category is whether or not anyone has passed him during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, these meets were in 2019.

This seems somewhat unlikely, as Li Fabin is the current world record holder at 61kg for his snatch and his total - nobody has recorded a lift that is above his, so if he is still at the level he was in 2019, this should be an easy gold medal.

Tokyo 2021 - Men's 67kg

  • Chen Lijun (CHN) -450
  • Luis Javier Mosquera Lozano (COL) +700
  • Adkhamjon Ergashev (UZB) +1200
  • Muhammed Furkan Ozbek (TUR) +1200
  • Mirko Zanni (ITA) +3300
  • Talha Talib (PAK) +3300

Chen Lijun is a four-time world champion and the current world record holder for total in the 67kg category.

He set this world record at the 2019 Asian Championships, and while both his snatch and clean and jerk lifts have been passed individually, his total remains the world record in the 67kg category.

In fact, it has been Lijun who has been his own toughest opponent when it comes to setting total world records in this category.

His total of 339kg in the Asian Championships broke a record of 332kg set at the 2018 World Championships by...Chen Lijun. That, in turn, broke a record of 331kg also set by Chen Lijun.

Tokyo 2021 - Men's 73kg

  • Shi Zhiyong (CHN) -1400
  • Bozhidar Dimitrov Andreev (BUL) +1600
  • Clarence Cummings Jr (USA) +1600
  • Julio Ruben Mayora Pernia (VEN) +1600
  • Marin Robu (MDA) +4000
  • Masanori Miyamoto (JPN) +4000

Shi Zhiyong is perhaps the most dominant competitor of all of these dominant competitors. He’s set 10 world records, including the current world records at 73kg for clean and jerk, snatch, and total.

He won the gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and he’s added 11kg onto his total since that medal performance.

He is as good as it gets - the most dominant men’s weightlifter alive outside of Lasha Talakhadze in the 109+kg division.

Tokyo 2021 - Men's 81kg

  • Lu Xiaojun (CHN) -275
  • Antonino Pizzolato (ITA) +333
  • Zacarias Bonnat Michel (DOM) +1000
  • Brayan Santiago Rodallegas Carvajal (COL) +1200
  • Harrison James Maurus (USA) +3300
  • Rejepbay Rejepov (TKM) +3300

The fact that Lu Xiaojun is still an Olympian is incredibly impressive. At the age of 36, Xiaojun is competing in his third Olympics, with a gold and silver medal to his name already.

His previous competition history is mostly at 77kg, but his move up to 81kg has seen him claim the current world record for total at 378kg.

He won the 2020 Asian Weightlifting Championship at 81kg, and the 2019 World Weightlifting Championship.

His closest competitor, Antonino Pizzolato, put up a 370kg total as his personal best. Lu Xiaojun routinely hit more than 370kg totals when he was at 77kg, let alone at 81kg.

It is entirely possible - perhaps even probable - that all four of these men take home gold medals for China in their respective weight classes. A parlay to that effect would have around +158 odds, depending on the sportsbook one used to create it.

One wonders if this would or should impact the online gambling odds for total gold medals - specifically, whether any country will end up with more gold medals than the United States.

China was the last country to do so, in 2008 and these four weightlifters could help them do so again.