Weightlifter Tian Tao Announces Retirement From International Competition

A chapter of weightlifting history is closing. On Saturday, Apr. 6, 2024, career weightlifter, Olympic silver medalist, and World Champion Tian Tao announced his retirement from the sport of weightlifting — at least, internationally.

Tao’s announcement hit social media shortly after the conclusion of the Men’s 89-kilogram Group A session at the 2024 IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand. The Cup runs from Mar. 31 to Apr. 11 and is the final opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, later this summer.

[Related: Karlos Nasar & Jeison Lopez (89KG) Score Back-to-Back Snatch World Records at IWF World Cup]

According to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Tao, 29, began his weightlifting career at just 10 years of age, studying alongside many of China’s best athletes. Tao’s international career kicked off in 2013 and he’s been a fixture within Men’s weightlifting ever since.

What Happened at the 2024 IWF World Cup?

Prior to the commencement of this year’s World Cup, Tao was considered an outside pick to represent China at the 2024 Olympics. Like all countries, Team China may only elect three male athletes to compete in any of the five Paris-recognized weight classes (and only one athlete per category).

When the last-chance qualifier began, Tao’s teammate (and world-record holder in the Total) Li Dayin sat atop the IWF’s qualification ranking leaderboards in the 89-kilogram division. In order to be eligible for Paris, Tao had to exceed Dayin’s best Total of 396 kilograms.

[Related: Why Weightlifting Sucks To Watch in 2024]

Tao competed valiantly against both Dayin and Bulgarian prodigy Karlos Nasar, but could not muster the strength required for a Total above 396 kilograms:

Tian Tao (89KG, CHN) | 2024 IWF World Cup

Snatch: 171, 176x, 177x

Clean & Jerk: 215x, 226x, 226x

Total: n/a

After securing a 171-kilogram snatch, Tao needed 226 kilograms in the clean & jerk — what would be a new world record — to reach a 397-kilogram Total and dislodge Dayin.

He took two courageous attempts at the weight, a number he’d exceeded in years past in heavier weight classes, but couldn’t secure his barbell overhead.

The 89-kilogram event in Phuket was a “bloodbath,” according to on-site commentators. Of the 11 Group-A athletes who competed in an attempt to win a ticket to Paris, only four registered a Total.

Tian Tao’s Weightlifting Career

While Tao won’t see the stage at a second Olympic Games, he is regardless leaving behind a commendable, decade-plus career in international weightlifting. Adoringly nicknamed “Heart Attack” for his coin-flip success rate on the platform, Tao has filled his medal cabinet with plenty of hardware, and often by the skin of his teeth.

Here are some of Tao’s most impressive achievements in weightlifting:

18 international competition appearances in 11 years

First Senior international win at age 20 at the 2014 Asian Games

8 international event wins overall

Olympic silver medalist at the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

2019 World Champion from Pattaya, Thailand

181-kilogram snatch lifetime international competition record, 2018 (96KG)

231-kilogram clean & jerk lifetime international competition record, 2019 (96KG)

Clean & jerk world-record holder at 231 kilograms (96KG, 2019-)

[Related: 5 of the Best Weightlifting Battles of All Time]

Tao also boasts some of the strongest legs in weightlifting, and is famous for his extraordinary prowess in the back and front squat, as well as the clean. His international career began in an “earlier era” of weightlifting, alongside all-time Chinese greats like Lu Xiaojun and Liao Hui.

The Next Chapter

On social media, Tao specified that he will no longer pursue competition in weightlifting at the international level. However, according to BarBend correspondent Brian Oliver, an unnamed source within the Chinese Weightlifting Association (CWA) made these remarks on Apr. 6 about Tao’s future:

“He’s said goodbye to international competition, but he has not retired from weightlifting.”

Tao is expected to perform on stage at the 15th National Games of China in 2025.

Tao will also celebrate his 30th birthday in just two days (from the time of this article’s publication) on Apr. 8. BarBend congratulates Tao on a spectacular career and wishes him well in his future endeavors. Oh, and happy birthday!

More Weightlifting News

Olympic Champion Meso Hassona (102KG) Injured, Out of 2024 IWF World Cup

American Hampton Morris Makes History With 176KG World Record Clean & Jerk

Rizki Juniansyah Sets World Record Total, Steals Olympic Slot From Teammate Rahmat Erwin Abdullah

DisclaimerBrian Oliver is an independent correspondent for BarBend. The views and opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect his own. Oliver is not directly affiliated with any of BarBend’s existing media partnerships.

Featured Image: Jessie Johnson / @barbellstories

The post Weightlifter Tian Tao Announces Retirement From International Competition appeared first on BarBend.


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