Just several years ago, had the men’s national weightlifting team’s officials described 11th place at the world championships as respectable, it would have sounded like they were talking about the 1980s, or before Greece’s spectacular rise on the international circuit. But in fact the satisfaction had to do with the present, and the Greek team’s final placing at the recent Worlds. The satisfaction stems from the fact that this new-look team of emerging talent – which competed with seven members, not the full force of eight – achieved its basic aim. It captured a place among the top 12, which brings the team closer to assuring its place at the 2008 Olympics with a representation of five athletes. Worlds a sign This recently completed world championship and next year’s round are the two main qualifying events for the 2008 Olympics. The top six teams will compete with six athletes, the following seven with five, a further seven will be in Beijing with four athletes, and the remainder with three each. In total, 170 weightlifters will do battle in the men’s competition at the Beijing Olympic Games. Powers outdone It should be noted that, having amassed 239 points at these latest Worlds, the Greek team outperformed traditional weightlifting powers that competed with eight-man squads. For example, Bulgaria ended 12th with 225 points, Germany was 14th with 219 points, Azerbaijan was ranked 17th with 185 points, Japan 25th with 127 points, and Hungary 33rd with 79 points. Moreover, other traditional powers like Romania, Georgia, and Turkey were missing from the higher placings, but their respective squads were far smaller. Only one competitor with a smaller squad than the national team’s, Armenia, which fielded six athletes, faired better than Greece. The Armenians ended eighth on 291 points. A total of 90 places are up for grabs in the women’s competition at the Beijing Olympics. The world’s top nine teams will be represented by four athletes each, the following five with three athletes, and a final three teams will field two athletes each. The current world rankings in men’s and women’s competition follow. Men: Russia, 510; China, 457; Poland, 440; Cuba, 414; Belarus, 391; Colombia, 354; South Korea, 331; Armenia, 291; Ukraine, 278; Kazakhstan, 254; Greece, 239; Bulgaria, 225; Egypt, 223; Germany, 219. Women: Russia, 520; China, 514; South Korea, 437; Thailand, 426; Colombia, 342; Ukraine, 341; Poland, 307; Japan, 248; USA, 245; Belarus, 243; Kazakhstan, 237; Mexico, 229; Venezuela, 226. (Greece, 21st with 143 points).