In a period of three months, the IWF finalized their decision for the weight class changes. For the world championships, both the men and the women will have 10 classes. For the Olympics, 7 classes each. Before the changes, the biggest headache for weightlifters was cutting weight. With the new changes, many athletes now faced the challenge of gaining and maintaining weight. It use to be a very rigorous process. In the last few days before a competition I would be starving and dehydrated. I would be hungry and see other people eat and join in. Their weight would go up but my would still be dropping.Two different ideas. I would always be eating. I don’t really gain weight no matter I eat. I think I’ve gotten fat. I don’t want to gain weight. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t think I can eat anymore. Gaining weight is so much harder than losing weight. For losing weight, you just have to skip a few meals and it would drop. For gaining weight, your weight might drop the next day just because you had a bad appetite the day before. We have a special team that designs nutrition programs for us. This way we can approach everything more scientifically. You must eat two yokes. I want to laugh. I don’t think we should gain too quickly. No matter if we gain 1kg or 0.1kg, that needs to translate appropriately to higher lifts. If it was gaining weight for the sake of gaining weight, I can reach the target in 2 days. That would be useless. I need 01.kg of bodyweight increase to give me 0.3 to 0.5 kilos on my total. Don’t gain weight too quickly. Your strength needs to go up as your weight goes up. You are not gaining weight for the sake of gaining weight. We will be talking about how and what to eat. If you add more meals in the evening, we will tell you what to add. Eat the whole egg including the yoke. There are only benefits. I think you guys have enough protein. With the food you are eating, the protein intake should be sufficient. Before the weight class changes, the men’s team had 5 categories where an Olympic gold was a possibility. With the new changes, only 4 can go to the Olympics. In addition, only one athlete is allowed per category. Tian Tao’s 85kg class was the category that was effected most by the recent changes. Being China’s hope for the 85kg class, he had taken the silver medal with a 395kg total in Rio. In 2012, Tian Tao moved from the 77kg class to the 85kg class. Now, he has to move up again to the 96kg class. This means that in order to secure a spot for Tokyo, Tian would need to gain weight and remain competitive in the new class. Would you say you are the type of person where gaining weight comes easier than losing weight? I would say thats my body type. Thats your body type? The time frame was too short. The time to gain strength and muscle was too short. Thus I gained a lot of body fat. So you gained 15 jin of bodyweight in 1 to 2 months? From 88kg to 94kg. So thats about right. About 7kg. 5, 6, 7ish kilos. This process, like you said, isn’t hard correct? But you’re also carrying more body fat. I didn’t have a gut before. Now I do. I heard people made wrong judgements about you when you went out at night. I was out with my dad at night in the streets of Wuhan. There was a personal trainer who was passing out fliers. He wanted to give one to me. I told him I was afraid I might wreck the place. I might put a hole in the ground. You didn’t show him your muscles? I was wearing a coat so he couldn’t tell. I walked away not 10 meters and he calls out. “Brother, you would look so good if you lost weight.”
I was so pissed. I almost went back to beat him up. In order to gain weight, eating is important. Eating is the most straightforward way to gain weight. I heard you had to eat more meals in a day. How many per day. 4 meals per day. Is your 4th meal a nighttime snack? Around 10-11pm. It has become a necessity. What is it that you eat? Usually a lot of noodles in the evening. Does it work? Carbs usually work very well. Rice and whatnot. You have nutritionists giving you tips. What are those tips? I was gaining weight too quickly. I was told to cut back down and build more muscle before continuing. If I rush the process now, it will all be fat. Your are very strong and explosive. These are your special qualities. My leg strength is good and I’m very explosive. But I also have certain weaknesses that kill. I have small hands and thus my snatch is very weak. You have small hands? Yeah. I have small hands too. They’re still bigger than mine. But you still have the nickname of number one cleaner in the world. You must have great technique. For my clean setup, the grip is narrower so I can actually get my thumb in position. It’s more of a problem in the snatch grip. *Glitch Maybe in a few years time you will remember what the personal training said about you looking better in a leaner state. But I guess thats not your goal in the near future. When the new classes were released, I was given two options. Cut to an 81 or bulk up to a 96. I suffered a serious elbow injury in the past. If I cut down, I will lose muscle mass and also the extra protection for my joints. There would be a greater risk for me if I cut. I training would likely suffer and I probably would not be able to lift as well. Also, the competition I will face in the 96kg class holds different meaning for me. I didn’t see the broadcast but I would imagine that you are the type to get pumped up during a competition. You would not leave out any opportunity to push pressure on your opponents. Yes. I have quite a sociable personality so that translate into being more and more hyped as the competition goes on. I remember the 2015 WC where I got gold in the snatch. I though the clean and jerk was a sure win. I ended up bombing. Over the next two years I was focused on improving my consistency in the lift. The new strategy that we came up with was opening with 215kg and going up by 10kg. I take big jumps in training. Opening with 220kg would have a different chance of success versus 215kg. If 215kg was a success, 225kg would also have a different chance of success versus the alternative. The strategy is to be steady correct? Was it effective this time? Yes. I do the same thing in training. I take big jumps. If I have to tackle a maximal lift that I haven’t lifted often, making it a second attempt would not result in a high chance of success. Is it a mental thing? It’s also habit I think. An unfamiliar pace during competition will mess with me. What made the competition spectacular? The clean and jerk portion I think. I was behind by a few kilos after the snatch portion and I knew Moradi was the more dominant athlete. I wanted to push him and see what he was capable of. I knew I had to give everything I had in order to catch a glimpse of what he was capable of. If I lifted less, he would receive the win easily and not display everything. Talk about your biggest opponent. The Iranian athlete. Its an interesting coincidence. Back when I was an 85kg lifter, my biggest competitor was also Iranian. Rostami. Now it is once again an Iranian athlete. I think my path will be more difficult relative to others. Every class I go to, the competition is fierce. So I have to put everything I have on the table in order to have a chance of winning. Concerning this athlete(Moradi), I didn’t know too much about him before. After entering this new class, I saw information online about how much he can lift and I felt a lot of stress. Was he as the legends described? He don’t think he was as godlike as in the legends. What you received is the important note of confidence that he isn’t a god. He can be beaten. Even though I received silvers all across the board, I think it was a victory for me. I know what kind of level I still need to reach for next year. You have already been through one. Do you know how to prepare for this one? Rio was a bit of a shame wasn’t it? How do you intend on making Tokyo an experience that is less disappointing? The reason I failed in Rio was because I lacked attention to the little details in training. I also wasn’t prepared mentally for the competiton. But experiencing it once and finding my own weaknesses has given me enough to approach it successfully a second time.