PURPOSE: To determine if RAEs exist in elite Olympic weightlifters from the past five Olympic Games. METHODS: Using retrospective competition data from the International Weightlifting Federation database a total of 953 Olympic Weightlifters (595 males and 358 females) who competed in the Olympic Games between 2000 and 2016 were included in this study. Weightlifters who competed in multiple Olympic Games were only counted once and duplicates were removed from this investigation. The weightlifters were divided into subset weight classes; men lightweight (56kg, 62kg, and 69kg), men middleweight (77kg, 85kg, and 94kg), men heavyweight (105kg and 105kg+), women lightweight (48kg, 53kg, and 58kg), women middleweight (63kg and 69kg), and women heavyweight (75kg and 75kg+). Using the subset weight classes, the observed date of birth distribution vs. the expected worldwide date of birth distribution were compared using multiple chi square (χ2) goodness of fit tests with the alpha level set at (p≤0.05). Following up the χ2 test, standardized residuals were calculated for each month with values of ±2 denoting significant over-and under-representation. RESULTS: RAEs were present overall for Olympic weightlifters (χ2 = 189.428, p<0.001), with significant over-representation in January (z= +12.6, 20.9%) and under-representation in June (z= -2.1, 6.3%), September (z= -3.2, 5.7%), and November (z= -3.0, 5.1%). RAEs were also present in all three male classes; men lightweight (χ2 = 74.773, p<0.001), men middleweight (χ2 = 41.786, p<0.001), and men heavyweight (χ2 = 39.395, p<0.001) and women lightweight (χ2 = 37.251, p<0.001). Significant over-representation was noted in January for men lightweight (24.1%), men middleweight (20.0%), men heavyweight (22.2%), and women lightweight (21.2%), and there was a significant under-representation for the month of November in men lightweight (z= -2.7, 2.8%). However, RAEs were not present in the women’s middleweight (χ2 = 18.632, p=0.068) or heavyweight (χ2 = 16.692, p= 0.117) classes. CONCLUSION: In males significant RAEs are present in Olympic weightlifters regardless of weight class. However, for females RAEs only exist for lightweight Olympic weightlifters. Indicating that RAEs are present in Olympic weightlifting is important because it will help maintain the amount of opportunity for all athletes regardless of when they were born in the year. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Coaches should be aware of the possible advantages of training age and the effect of physical maturation as a result of these RAEs. Coaches may use this information for athlete selection but the presence of RAEs should not discourage athletes from participating in the sport of weightlifting.
Kollars, J. M., Beyer, K. S., & Taber, C. B. (2019, July). Relative age effects in elite Olympic weightlifters. National Strength and Conditioning Association National Conference, Washington, DC.
National Strength and Conditioning Association National Conference
Presented at the National Strength and Conditioning Association National Conference 10-13 July 2019, Washington, DC.