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Tian Tao: Rising About Adversity and Defying the Odds

The weightlifting maestro who overcame lots of challenges on the way to triumph: weight category shifts and recovering from injuries made him stronger with each performance.

Tian Tao, the Chinese Olympian, World, Asian, and Asian Games Champion who always tries to keep the reputation showcasing his incredible lifts and breaking new Olympic and World records.

The Birth of a New Weightlifting Warrior

Tian Tao began his lifting career at the age of ten. At seventeen, he participated in national competitions by hitting the Youth World Records with the following accomplishments: due to 205 kg in Jerk, he beat the current Junior World Record by three kilograms.

At the age of 18, he attempted to qualify for the Olympic Games in London. Over a decade, at the international platform, he won a World Championship gold and two Asian Championship titles.


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Building up the Olympian’s Reputation

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, he clinched a silver medal that built up a solid reputation for him in the world weightlifting arena. Moreover, his nickname – Tian “Hard Attack” Tao – proves his promising talent, unpredictable and inconsistent performance, and great weights on the barbell.

In 2021 the weightlifting community got shocking news: Tian was retiring, but came back in a new look and more powerful physical form. Then he moved to the lighter weight class of 89 kilograms.

In 2023, he participated at the Asian Championships in Jinju by showing incredible results: he lifted 165 kg in Snatch on the first attempt by getting bronze and then set a World Record in Clean & Jerk of 222 kg. Although he secured second place in total, it was obvious that Tao was in perfect condition and ready to hit the platform.

The year 2023 was full of new records, especially for the 89-kg weight category: Bulgarian Karlos Nasar set a Clean & Jerk world record of 221 kg at the Europeans in Yerevan. However, it was beaten by Tian in Jinju 2023 with 222 kg. His teammate Li Dayin didn’t stay behind and set Snatch and Totals records of 180 kg and 396 kg respectively.

Despite the sports itself, Tian Tao finds comfort in fishing, which is his big hidden passion. What’s more, he incorporated specific ex

Epic Defeat at the World Championships in Riyadh

Speaking about the Championships in Riyadh, Tao was in the 89-kg weight division, one of the most competitive at this event where Keydomar Vallenilla, Li Dayin, Antonino Pizzolato, Andranik Karapetyan, and Marin Robu were his main contenders. 

It was clear that it would be a tough battle and only the strongest one would reign on the podium. A week before the competition, Tao was more than in solid shape: he confidently lifted 170 kg in Snatch and performed squats with insane weights at ease.

The expectations were higher than usual. During his performance, Tian made only one attempt in Snatch by lifting 168 kg and took 7th place, which overall was of his style and wasn’t surprising. In the Clean & Jerk round, the tension was higher: he failed his first attempt of 209 kg as he missed in Jerk. The second attempt of 212 kg finished the same, and the last try of 214 kg ended up with the Jerk miss.

Less than a month later, Tian Tao performed at the Asian Games in Hangzhou 2023 in the 96-kg weight class. All his Snatch attempts were successful with the best lift of 180 kg and winning the gold medal. In the Clean & Jerk session, he did 210 kg in Clean & Jerk by clinching total gold. It occurred a sad and dramatic performance for Tian.

Health Issue Before the Qualifying Event in Qatar

In November, Tao posted a photo of him in a hospital bed with medical patches on his right shoulder. Later he did a video explaining that just after the Asian Games, he had surgery because of his old shoulder problem. He said that he would do everything to recover as fast as possible not to miss the chance to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris.

What’s more, we noticed him at the Qatar Grand Prix II in good condition. He didn’t complete this time, but he had some workouts at the training hall, including shoulder rehab as well. He was in a good mood doing heavy pulls. So, we hope to see him soon on the big podium again at his peak form.

The weightlifting world is highly dynamic and full of numerous unexpected things. While Tian Tao stays resilient, determined, and strong on the way to his Olympic dream.

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Tanya Shaiko

Author: Tanya Shaiko
News Editor, Olympic Lifting Enthusiast

Oly Lifting Experience: 6 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 61 kg,
C&J – 78 kg

I’m Tanya, and I just can’t do without fitness. About six years ago, I got into Olympic weightlifting and instantly fell in love with it. Weightlifting is like no other sport – it’s just you versus the bar. Driven by my unwavering passion for an active lifestyle, I’ve been eager to share my personal journey and sports enthusiasm with others. As a journalist and photographer, my interests come full circle, adding an extra dimension to the news column that I curate. This way, I keep my readers updated with the latest happenings in the sports world.

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