Who lifted first? Determining placement in a competition

Let’s Clear Up The Confusion On Determining Placement Without Bodyweight As A Factor

I’ve noticed some confusion about how determining placement in a competition works since the IWF eliminated bodyweight as a factor to classify athletes. When the rule changed something odd happened. We got confused about time.

Our primary question for breaking ties changed from “Who is lighter?”, to “Who did it first?” It tends to get messy in competitions where “A” and “B” sessions occur.

Here is what the IWF TCRR says about classification of athletes:

*6.8.2 Factors to decide the classification of athletes in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk

best result – highest first; if identical, then:
Best result’s attempt number – least number of attempt first, if identical, then:
Previous attempt(s) – lease number of attempt first, if identical, then:
Lot number – lowest first*

Factors to decide the classification of the athletes in Total:
Best result – highest first, if identical, then:
Best Clean & Jerk result – lowest first, if identical, then:
Best Clean & Jerk result’s attempt number – least number of attempt first, if identical, then:
Previous attempt(s) – least number of attempt first; if identical, then:
Lot number – lowest first

The key point; groupings, or sessions as we tend to call them, have no bearing when answering the question “Who did it first?” Placements are determined only by the factors listed above.

If you want to make sure this doesn’t get confusing you can stop here. It’s all you need to know.

Now let’s play a game

Take a look at the protocol below and fill in the correct placements. This protocol is taken directly from the IWF TCRR Technical Official’s test.

Remember, if a lifter competed earlier in the day in the same bodyweight category (B session), he did not lift first as far as placement in the meet goes.

I’m sorry in advance if it gets lengthy/confusing. It’s not complicated and I hope the below doesn’t make it seem to be. Scroll down for the answers with explanations.

First – the difference between a Lot Number and a Start Number

A Lot Number is randomly assigned to every lifter prior to the start of a competition. Drawing of lots is supposed to happen at a Final Verification Meeting held the day before a competition starts. Frankly, many local meet directors don’t hold a meeting or draw lots at all. Lots are retained through a competition and used to order a weigh-in and the order of lifting during a competition within a session (or “group” as the TCRR refers to it).

However, after weigh-ins and prior to the start of a session, a Start Number is assigned and added to each Athlete’s card and scoreboard (if there is one) but not the scoring sheet (protocol).

Start Numbers are assigned using Lot Numbers. They aren’t the same thing. So the lifter in a group with the lowest Lot Number receives start #1 and so on. At local meets, you’ll often see Lot Numbers (when drawn) get carried over and Start Numbers ignored. If you don’t see Start or Lot Numbers on the cards prior to a session ask the meet director or marshal to add them. I’d rather have a “random” assignment drawn up at the table then have no numbers at all.

Start Numbers, when present, are reset every session. This can create the potential for confusion at competitions where multiple groups within a bodyweight category happen. For example, if there are 20, 69kg lifters in a competition they might get split into “A” and “B” sessions. The lifters in each session will receive Start Numbers between 1-10. It doesn’t matter there are 20 of them in the category. Only 10 are in the session so only 10 numbers are assigned. “A” session coaches looking at “B” session results must know/have the Lot Numbers when looking at results.

To further complicate things, some groups have multiple weight categories. For example, a combined 62kg/69kg “B” session. In this case, Start Numbers are assigned to the session as a whole but lifters in the 62kg get their Start Numbers first (lowest to highest) then the 69kg lifters get theirs. So if there are five (5) 62kg lifters and five (5) 69kg lifters, the 62kg’s get Start Numbers 1-5 and the 69kg’s get 6-10. This is so even when some of the 69kg lifters have lower Lot Numbers than any of the 62kg lifters. Confused yet? No worries, this isn’t that important.

How did you do?

Here is the answer key to the protocol above. I’ll break it down by lift.

Snatch result:

  • 4 lifters in this class did 140kg. Lifter E and Lifter C both did 140kg on opening attempts so they are 1-2. E has the lower Lot Number so he wins.
  • Lifter A made 140kg on his second attempt and Lifter D made it on his third attempt so they are 3-4 respectively.
  • Lifter B and Lifter F both did 138kg on third attempts. Lifter F has a lower Lot Number than Lifter B but he finished 6th because of their second attempt selections. Lifter B took 135kg and Lifter F took 136kg. That means lifter B went first.

Clean & Jerk result:

  • Lifter F and Lifter B both did 173kg on second attempts to place 1-2. Lifter F is the winner because they both opened with 165kg which means Lot Number broke the tie.
  • Third place and sixth place are easy. Lifter C is the only one that did 171kg. That immediately puts him behind Lifters B and F. Lifter A is the only one that did 164kg and it is the lowest outcome so it’s sixth.
  • That leaves 4th and 5th place. Lifters E and D both did 165kg. Lifter E is 4th because he did it on a second attempt. Lifter D did 165kg on his third.

Total result:

  • Three lifters totaled 311kg. First place is easy to determine. Lifter C snatched 140kg while Lifters B and F both snatched 138kg. Lifter C needed the lightest C&J (171kg) to hit the 311kg so he did the 311kg first and wins. The other two lifters knew what he had done before taking 173kg so they needed one more kg to win.
  • To determine the tiebreak for second and third we go back to Lot Number as we did in the C&J. Both lifters B and F opened with 165kg, then hit 173kg on second attempts. Lifter F, therefore, beat Lifter B by virtue of lower Lot Number.
  • Lifters E and D both did 305kg to place 4th and 5th. Lifter E is 4th because he made 165kg on his opener while Lifter D did it on a second attempt.

Note when looking at Total, it doesn’t matter what attempt number someone made a snatch on. It only matters when the Total is made. Using this protocol Lifter F still would have placed ahead of Lifter B even if Lifter B made a 138kg snatch on a first or second attempt.

All of this is consistent to when bodyweight was a factor. We never confused “A” and “B” sessions because we looked to the bodyweight regardless of session to break a tie.

When time does matter: Records

Records set in “B” sessions are rare but do happen. It’s in these cases where session, or more accurately, clock time, is a factor. To round out the protocol game, the World Record Holders are:

  • Snatch – Lifter C, because he did 140kg in the “B” session on a first attempt.
  • C&J – Lifter B, because he did it in the “B” session before Lifter F competed.
  • Total – Lifter C, because he did it in the “B” session and placed ahead (did it before) Lifter B who ultimately finished 3rd.

When looking at placement/classification it’s the order of lifting and string of attempts that matter. Don’t think about the session. It’s not a factor. Read the TCRR 6.8.2 again. Nothing in there speaks to session or group.


In this post I used the following terms interchangeably.
The term on the left is the official IWF term. The right are what we often say. 
Protocol = Score-sheet,
Group = Session,
Classification = Placement