With a new Italian record in the -67kg weight category, Mirko Zanni won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
It’s a dream come true for Italian Mirko Zanni. He has been working towards this moment for more than ten years. And he event can’t really remember his last and decisive attempt. “It all happened so fast. It felt like I just woke up from a dream when the barbell was suddenly above my head. I just started screaming”, Zanni looks back. With 322kg in total and thus only one point ahead of the fourth-placed Korean Myeongmok Han, the 23-year-old won bronze in the featherweight (-67kg).
However, the competition started anything but optimal for the Italian. Only his first attempt in the snatch with 145kg was valid, he failed two times at 150kg. In order to have a real chance of winning an Olympic medal, the weightlifter from Pordenone had to step it up a notch in the clean and jerk and started with high loads. A real thriller started when the jury judged Zanni’s first attempt with 172kg as invalid due to press-out.
The 23-year-old increased the weight once again to 177kg, but he did not make this second attempt either. The Italian had one last attempt left and he put everything he had in this last lift. When he finally pushed the 177kg overhead, it ended up with an emotional cheering scene.
From playing volleyball to weightlifting
Zanni has invested quite a few hours in his training for this moment, But it was more by chance that he discovered his love for weightlifting. For four years, the 1.70-meter tall athlete was initially found on the volleyball court. But since the then 14-year-old also wanted to gain strength, his father, who was good in powerlifting and bodybuilding, took him to the gym.
Shortly after, Zanni had the opportunity to participate in a weightlifting competition. Initially, he did not know exactly how to decide, but then he decided to take part in this competition – also to do his father a favor. This decision turned out to be the right one – Zanni turned his back on volleyball and concentrated fully on weightlifting.
A lot has happened since that first competition. At the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China, he took third place with 255kg in total (-62kg). And this year he finished second at the European Championships in Moscow in the -67kg class with 148kg in the snatch and 170kg in the clean and jerk. Although his preparation for the Tokyo Olympics did not go according to plan, he never stopped believing in himself.
“I have come to understand one thing: No matter how the preparation went, everything is different in the competition.”Zanni fully concentrated on his competition during his time in the Olympic Village in Tokyo. And then he rewarded himself.