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Weightlifting at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Heavyweight

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 26, 1956
Date Finished: November 26, 1956
Format: Total of best lifts in military press, snatch, and clean & jerk determined placement. Ties broken by lightest bodyweight.

Gold: USA Paul Anderson
Silver: ARG Humberto Selvetti
Bronze: ITA Alberto Pigaiani

Summary

The overwhelming favorite was American [Paul Anderson], who had been shattering world records for the past 18 months, and had won the 1955 World Championship with a margin of 37.5 kg. He had been so dominant that the Soviet Union did not even enter a lifter in the heavyweight division, conceding it to Anderson. However, on arriving in Melbourne, Anderson became ill with strep throat and was at less than his best. He was then surprised in the press when Argentine Humberto Selvetti, the 1952 bronze medalist, took the lead with 175.0 kg to Anderson’s 167.5 kg – nobody else was close. The two both lifted 145.0 kg in the snatch as Selvetti maintained his lead. Selvetti jerked 180.0 kg to take the lead and Anderson called for 187.5 for his first lift. He failed. Then he failed again, before succeeding on his final attempt with 187.5 kg as the two lifters tied on total weight at 500.0 kg, well off Anderson’s world record of 519.5 kg. The medal standings would come down to bodyweight and Anderson was huge for that era, at 137.9 kg (303½ lbs), but Selvetti was even bigger, at 143.5 kg (316 lbs), giving Anderson the gold medal and Selvetti silver.

Anderson retired from amateur weightlifting after the Melbourne Olympics and made his living as a professional strongman, and doing power lifting exhibitions. Considered by many as the strongest man who ever lived, he lifted 2,844 kg (6,270 lbs) in a back lift at an exhibition in June 1957. Selvetti continued to lift in amateur competitions, returning to the Olympics in 1964 where he placed 17th.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal K
1 Paul Anderson 24 United States USA Gold 500.0 OR
2 Humberto Selvetti 24 Argentina ARG Silver 500.0 OR
3 Alberto Pigaiani 28 Italy ITA Bronze 452.5
4 Firouz Pojhan 30 Iran IRI 450.0
5 Eino Mäkinen 30 Finland FIN 432.5
6 Dave Baillie 28 Canada CAN 432.5
7 Franz Hölbl 28 Austria AUT 425.0
8 Hugh Jones 26 New Zealand NZL 397.5
9 Dandamudi Rajagopal 40 India IND 360.0