| Event type

Heavyweight (≤75 kilograms), Women

Date 3 August 2012 — 12:30, 15:30
LocationExCeL, Newham, London (South Arena 3)
Participants13 from 12 countries
FormatTotal of best lifts in snatch and clean & jerk determined placement. Ties broken by lightest bodyweight.

There was no easy way to pick a favorite in the women’s heavyweight division of the weightlifting tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics, which had three strong competitors vying for the crown. Nadezhda Yevstyukhina of Russia, holding the world record in the clean and jerk, was probably the most prominent among them, having won bronze at the 2008 Games and the 2007 and 2010 World Championships, silver at the 2006 World Championships and 2010 European Championships, and gold at the 2011 World and European Championships. Her compatriot Nataliya Zabolotnaya held the world record in the snatch and total points and had silver medals from the 2004 Olympics, the 2005, 2007, and 2010 World Championships, and the 2011 European Championships, along with five European titles (2003, 2006, 2008-2010). Finally there was Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan, formerly of Russia, who had World Championship bronze from 2005, silver from 2011, and gold from 2004, 2005, 2009, and 2010 in addition to the 2010 Asian Games title.

After Yevstyukhina failed three times to snatch 125 kg, the remainder of the event became a ferocious exchange between Podobedova and Zabolotnaya that resulted in eight Olympic records being set of the course of competition. The Kazakh beat the old Olympic record in the snatch by 2 kilograms with a 130 kg lift, but was immediately overtaken by Zabolotnaya, who lifted 131 kg. No other competitor came close to this weight; Irina Kulesha of Belarus, who had a long history of finishing fourth that included the 2008 Olympics and the most recent two World Championships, was third with 121 kg. In the next phase, Zabolotnaya lifted 155 kg to set an Olympic record in the clean and jerk and total points, but Podobedova responded by lifting 156 kg. Zabolotnaya again reset both records, this time with a 160 kg lift, but Podobedova bested her again with a 161 kg lift. Their scores tied at the end, the Kazakh became Olympic champion by 0.22 kilograms, the difference in their weight in a tie-breaker where the lightest competitor would win. Kulesha finished in a distant third place, twenty-two kg behind the front runners, but finally on the podium.

That was how the event and the results seemed to have ended. In 2015, however, the IOC began re-testing samples from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, using newer, more advanced testing techniques, in an effort to find those who had used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), but in whom it could not be detected at the time of those Olympics. This was one of the many events affected. Every women’s weightlifting event at the 2012 London Olympics, except flyweight (≤ 48 kg), was affected by positive re-tests.

All three medalists in this event ended up disqualified for positive re-tests. Svetlana Podobedova (KAZ) tested positive for stanozolol in October 2016, while Nataliya Zabolotnaya (RUS) and Irina Kulesha (BLR) had re-test positives for turinabol (dehydrochloromethyltestosterone) announced on 21 November 2016. The medals were re-assigned as follows: Gold – Lydia Valentín (ESP); Silver – Abir Abdulrahman (EGY); Bronze – Madias Nzesso (CMR). Valentín received her gold medal on 28 February 2019 at a special ceremony in Madrid.

Valentín especially benefited from the plethora of drug re-tests at the 2008-12 Olympics, having been moved up to a silver medal in this event in 2008. Kulesha also had a re-test positive for turinabol at this event at the 2008 Olympics. Valentín won a bronze medal in the event in 2016, without medal re-assignments, so, technically, “she won her third Olympic medal before she won her first two,” if that makes any sense.

PosGroupLifterNOCWeightBodyweightSnatchClean & Jerk
1Lydia ValentínESP26574.39120 (1)145 (1)Gold
2Abir AbdulrahmanEGY25874.60118 (2)140 (2)Silver
3Madias NzessoCMR24674.55115 (3)131 (3)Bronze
4Ewa MizdalPOL23170.58104 (4)127 (=5)
5Jaqueline FerreiraBRA23074.12102 (5)128 (4)
6María ValdésCHI22374.7096 (7)127 (=5)
7Im Ji-HyeKOR22374.8197 (6)126 (7)
8Thuraia SobhSYR20173.3886 (8)115 (8)
9Khadija MohammadUAE11374.7251 (9)62 (9)
DNFNadezhda YevstyukhinaRUS74.23– (NVL)
DQSvetlana PodobedovaKAZ[291][74.58][130] (DQ)[161] (DQ)1
DQNataliya ZabolotnayaRUS[291][74.80][131] (DQ)[160] (DQ)2
DQIryna KuleshaBLR[269][74.95][121] (DQ)[148] (DQ)3