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Weightlifting at the Antwerp Olympic Games – Celebrating 100 Years

It was exactly 100 years ago, that the sport of weightlifting was on the program of the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920. The Antwerp Games was the seventh modern Olympic Games, and the third where weightlifting was included after 1896 in Athens (GRE) and 1904 in St. Louis (USA).

14 countries and 53 athletes competed in the five existing categories during the Games. There was a massive increase in the number of participating countries and athletes compared to Athens where just six men from five countries and the US where only five men from two countries took part in the events. In the five categories there was a Belgian, Italian and Estonian winner, while in the other two categories French lifters won the gold medals. Altogether seven countries won medals at the Games.

In the ‘Olympisch Stadion’ which was built specifically for the Games, weightlifting was scheduled right after the athletics events, therefore the lifters competed in an open arena.

At this time only male athletes could compete in weightlifting, as the first Olympic Games where female categories were introduced was the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

The youngest athlete, Michel Mertens (LUX) was only 18 years old, while the oldest athlete Albert Pettersson (SWE) who later won the bronze medal in the 75 kg category, was 35 years old. Among the athletes only one represented the world outside Europe, an Egyptian athlete. There were big nations missing even from Europe. Germany and Austria as losers of the war were not able to send athletes to the Antwerp Olympic Games.

Let’s remember the medalist who won 100 years ago:


Francois De Haes (BEL) – 220 kg
Alfred Schmidt (EST) – 210 kg
Eugene Ryther (SUI) – 210 kg


Alfred Neuland (EST) – 257,5 kg
Louis Williquet (BEL) – 240 kg
Florimond Rooms (BEL) – 230 kg

75 kg

Henri Gance (FRA) – 245 kg
Pietro Bianchi (ITA) – 235 kg
Albert Pettersson (SWE) – 235 kg


Ernest Cadine (FRA) – 295 kg
Friedrich Hünenberger (SUI) – 277,5 kg
Erik Pettersson (SWE) – 267,5 kg


Filippo Bottino (ITA) – 265 kg
Joseph Alzin (LUX) – 260 kg
Louis Bernot (FRA) – 255 kg