- Om Yun Chol (PRK)
- Thach Kim Tuan (VIE)
- Long Qingquan (CHN)
Om Yun Chol of North Korea is untouchable in this division. He's not only the reigning Olympic Champion, he's also the 2013, 2014, and 2015 World Champion. Kim Tuan Thach (VIE) has finished third and second respectively to Om in the past two World Championships and Long Qingquan is the only other male in this division with a total great enough to compete against Thach.
- Chen Lijun (CHN)
- Eko Yuli Irawan (INA)
- Oscar Albeiro Figueroa Mosquera (COL)
Chen Lijun's dominance in this division is similar in scope to Om Yun Chol's: he's a two time World Champion and a multiple World Record holder. His biggest international competition, Kim Un-Guk (PRK), is currently suspended, leaving the division his to lose. Indonesia's Irawan placed fourth at 2015 Worlds with an abysmal two-for-six performance and I expect him to show up at Rio with something to prove. Oscar Mosquera (COL) could give Irawan a run for silver if he's able to put together an epic day, but even with an average performance he's got bronze locked in.
- Shi Zhiyong (CHN)
- Daniyar Ismayilov (TUR)
- Luis Javier Mosquera Lozano (COL)
With Oleg Chen (RUS) banned from competing and legend Liao Hui (CHN) retired, the 2015 World Champion Shi Zhiyong (CHN) is ready to claim Olympic Gold. Turkey's Ismayilov is the only 69 who has a total near Shi Zhiyong's and while Luis Javier Mosuera (COL) is young and coming off an injury, if he can compete healthy it'll be a great battle for silver and bronze positions.
- Lu Xiaojun (CHN)
- Nijat Rahimov (KAZ)
- Andranik Karapetyan (ARM)
Lu Xiaojun (CHN) is an epic lifter. He's the defending Olympic Champion, holds several Olympic and World Records, and is one of the most famous weightlifters in the world. After bombing out during the 2015 World Championships, he'll have something to prove and even if he's able to hit a moderate clean & jerk, he'll be able to lock up Olympic Gold yet again. The defending World Champion, Nijat Rahimov (KAZ), has an incredible clean & jerk compared to the rest of the field and that will be his key to locking up silver.
The bronze position will be an awesome battle between Egypt's Mohamed Mahmoud (aka Mohamed Ehab) and Armenia's Andranik Karapetyan. Where Rahimov will medal off his clean & jerk, Karapetyan is probably the only other 77 besides Lu who can snatch 170kg. That, combined with his 3rd or 4th place clean & jerk, will put him ahead of Ehab for bronze overall.
- Tian Tao (CHN)
- Kianoush Rostami (IRI)
- Oleksandr Pielieshenko (UKR)
The men's 85kg division is going to be a battleground between Iran's Kianoush Rostami and China's Tian Tao. Rostami, the current World Champion, and Tao have been rivals for years and leading up to Rio they've both put up the exact same incredible lifts: 175/220/395. While Tao's jerk is famously inconsistent (he's bombed out on jerks at Worlds twice, losing to Rostami both times), he's also got a higher ceiling of performance compared to Rostami so if Tao can put together a good day of competition he'll walk away with the Olympic Gold.
Third place will be a shootout between Ukraine's Pielieshenko and Belarus' Petr Asayonak, but the edge will go to Pielieshenko due to his truly world class clean & jerk.
- Sohrab Moradi (IRI)
- Vadzim Straltsou (BLR)
- Adrian Edward Zielinski (POL)
Moradi (IRI) has just come off of a suspension and he's been hitting pretty incredible lifts during his time away from the sport, including snatching 200kg and clean & jerking 240kg late last year. If he can even get anywhere near that, he'll have gold locked in. Vadzim Straltsou of Belarus, the 2015 World Champion, is no slouch and will be able to challenge Moradi if he can put together a more consistent performance than he did at Worlds (three for six).
Adrian Zielinski of Poland has a solid shot at bronze but both Straltsou and Moradi have epic clean & jerks which Zielinski can't keep up with.
- Ruslan Nuridinov (UZB)
- Alexandr Zaichikov (KAZ)
- Zhe Yang (CHN)
Uzbekistan's Nuridinov is the man who nearly beat Ilya Ilyin at the 2014 World Championships, losing out on bodyweight. While the competition at Rio likely won't result in three World Record attempts and massive 430kg+ totals for gold, Ruslan Nuridinov is good for 190/235 which should be enough to put him on top of the podium.
Alexandr Zaichikov of Kazakhstan is the defending World Champion and one of a few 105s who can snatch 190kg. In an environment like the Olympics, expect Zaichikov to push the limits of his clean & jerk to compete with Nuridinov. The only other athlete competing who has the potential to push into the 410kg total range is China's Zhe Yang, who placed fourth at the 2014 World Championships.
- Lasha Talakhadze (GEO)
- Gor Minasyan (ARM)
- Behdad Salimi (IRI)
[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BHmglbODPkT/" hide_caption="0"]
Certain benchmark lifts act as separators in weightlifting. I mentioned that 190kg snatch as a 105 and the 170kg snatch as a 77. For super heavyweights, that number is the 200kg snatch. In the past two World Championships there have been only ten 200kg+ snatches split among six lifters. Of those six lifters, four are competing in Rio and only three of those have big clean & jerks to back the snatch up.
The men's super heavyweight gold medal is Lasha Talakhadze's to lose this year. The big Georgian is poised to make some huge lifts, likely taking a swipe at the 214kg snatch World Record owned by Behdad Salimi (IRI) and the total 472kg Total World Record owned by Houssein Rezazadeh (IRI).
[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BH7mqm8A7rt/" hide_caption="0"]
Speaking of Salimi, he's back to competing after tearing an ACL during a World Record clean & jerk attempt. While his clean & jerk hasn't recovered to 100%, his snatch is still incredibly strong and he'll be able to get a good lead going into the clean & jerks over the rest of the field. It's Armenia's Gor Minasyan he has to try to stay ahead of. Where Salimi's clean & jerk hasn't quite recovered, Minasyan is only getting better with a recent 250kg lift in training.