November 14th, 2020

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Yanko Rusev (Bulgaria): Big Night in Sofia in 1979


History in Color:

July 9, 1979, Sofia, Bulgaria – 20-year old lightweight Yanko Rusev, member of national team of Bulgaria, clean-and-jerks a world record of 185.5kg and wins a gold medal in the 67.5kg class at the 1979 Republican Spartakiad and Bulgarian Championships in Sofia.


It was a big night for Bulgarian superstar Rusev. He set 3 world records on his way to the national title – 147kg snatch, 185.5kg clean-and-jerk and 325kg in total.


Yanko Rusev (born 1958) is definitely one of the best Olympic weightlifters of all times and nations in the history of this sport. He was a 5x World champion (1978-1982), a 5x European Champion (1978-1982) and, of course, an Olympic champion (1980). Due to the boycott of the Summer Olympics in LA, Yanko Rusev didn’t compete in the 1984 Olympics. Instead, he won the alternative 1984 Friendship Cup in Varna with a 337.5kg total (145+192.5).


Rusev managed to 25 world records in his career. His personal best in total were:



  • 67.5kg 342.5kg (147.5 + 195) at the 1980 Summer Olympics in  Moscow

  • 75kg 365kg (157.5 + 207.5) at the 1982 World Championships in Ljubljana


Yanko Rusev shined with an outstanding strength and almost perfect lifting technique in both the snatch and the clean-and-jerk lifts. He was a definite leader in the lightweight and the middleweight divisions and was considered virtually unbeatable at the time he competed in these weight classes.