Rio 2016 Olympic Games

#BehdadSalimi Should Be #LashaTalakhadze

#BehdadSalimi Should Be #LashaTalakhadze

The Olympics are the pinnacle of competition for many sports. With such high stakes, there's bound to be drama. And this year was no different: the 2012 Oly

Aug 19, 2016 by Armen Hammer
#BehdadSalimi Should Be #LashaTalakhadze
The Olympics are the pinnacle of competition for many sports. With such high stakes, there's bound to be drama. And this year was no different: the 2012 Olympic champion, Behdad Salimikordasiabi of Iran, went from the highest high of setting a new world-record snatch, to the lowest low of being removed from competition by bombing out on the clean-and-jerk.

Since then, Salimi's disappointing finish has become a controversial issue in the world of weightlifting. His first attempt was a no-lift by majority decision due a press-out (the rules require the bar to go overhead in one motion, and caught with the arms locked; catching the bar with bent elbows, then pressing to lock out is against the rules).

His second attempt was given three white lights by the referees only to be overturned by the jury. It happened so quickly that he missed his final clean as a result of having not having enough time to recover between attempts.

By bombing out and failing to make a successful clean-and-jerk, Salimi lost out on a podium spot. While it's the jury's job to intervene and overturn lifts, the Iranian lifter, coaches, and fans felt the decision was political.

All of this boiled over into some loud online protests.

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The IWF's Instagram photo of the M015+ podium has well over 1,100,000 comments on it as of this article's publish time. Nearly all include #BehdadSalimi, emojis of Iran's flag or claims that this was a political decision instead of a weightlifting call. And this "internet outrage" isn't just on the most recent posts by IWF; even posts from late 2015 have now been overrun with hundreds of #BehdadSalimi comments.

While we don't have the rights to the competition footage from Rio, I can tell you that--based on what I saw--the jury's decision was 100 percent accurate. But that doesn't change the fact that the internet has lost its mind over this. Even the IWF's website even seems to be under stress--it stopped working after Tuesday night's session and only recently came back online.


But what's been lost in all this uproar is how Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia not only won the Olympics, but he did so in dominant fashion with a (brief) world record in the snatch and an astounding world record in the total.

Talakhadze's performance was astonishing, and Salimi just didn't have what it took to challenge him. It's unfortunate to see a defending Olympic champion lose by bombing out--especially after such an epic snatch world record--but that's just what happens in competitions like this. Salimi knows that "coulds," "woulds", and "shoulds" don't count in weightlifting, so when he and his coaches made a huge scene by confronting the jury table, and when Salimi sat on the ground and cried after things didn't go his way, they're not really making a good case for "I should be the Olympic champion."

All those #BehdadSalimi's should instead read #LashaTalakhadze. Talakhadze showed up big, hit all six of his lifts, and set a new world-record total. Salimi lost, threw a fit, is now the focus of this massive internet movement--and to what end? The IWF isn't going to take back the jury's decision and suddenly award Salimi a silver medal. We can't just ignore the rules of the sport because some fans don't agree with how a competition turned out.