Weights to watch at the 2024 European Weightlifting Championships © Getty Images

The 2024 European Weightlifting Championships will be held from 12-20 February in Sofia, Bulgaria. This is a qualifying competition for Paris 2024. Athletes will therefore need to perform at their best to improve their position in the Olympic rankings. 

USA athletes will also be in Sofia to compete in the Olympic qualifying tournament. As the country decided not to compete in the Pan American Championships in Venezuela due to the political situation, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) allowed them to take part in the qualifiers in Europe. It will be an interesting battle in every weight class, but in some, especially the Olympic weights, it will be even more interesting. 

Weight to watch - women's -59kg, because of Kamila Konotop 

The world runner-up will be looking to defend her European title. After a silver medal at the 2023 World Championships, Konotop will be looking to add another European title to her collection. The Ukrainian has almost qualified for Paris 2024 and has the third-best overall in her weight class, so the pressure will be off her in Sofia.

Kamila Konotop at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games GETTY IMAGES
Kamila Konotop at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games GETTY IMAGES

Weight to watch - women's -71kg, because of Olivia Reeves and Sarah Davis 

USA's Olivia Reeves, the bronze medallist at the 2023 World Championships, will not be competing for the European title. Sarah Davis (Great Britain), runner-up at the 2021 World Championships, has been out of form following the racism scandal and will need to climb the Olympic rankings. She will have to repeat her personal best of 234 kg. Will she succeed?

Weight to watch - women's - 87 kg, because of Solfrid Koanda and Anastasia Manievska 

Solfrid Koanda (Norway) will be competing for the first time since the World Championships, where she failed to achieve a total. The reigning European champion scored "zero" in the snatch and then won the gold medal in the clean and jerk. She needs to establish herself as one of the contenders for Paris 2024 and the European title is very important for her. Anastasia Manievska (Ukraine), runner-up at the European Championships in 2023, also failed to score at the World Championships due to an injury in the snatch.

Norway's Solfrid Koanda is a big star in the women's -87 category. GETTY IMAGES
Norway's Solfrid Koanda is a big star in the women's -87 category. GETTY IMAGES

Weight to watch - Women's +87 kg, because of Mary Theisen-Lappen and Emily Campbell

Tokyo 2020 runner-up Emily Campbell (Great Britain) has missed a lot of competition recently due to injury. However, her performance at the World Championships in Bogota in 2022, where she won silver, has kept her high in the Olympic rankings. Will she be on top in Sofia or will she withdraw after the weigh-in? And if she does, will she have a better total than USA's Mary Theisen-Lappen, a surprise silver medallist at the 2023 World Championships?

Weight to watch - Men's -89kg, because of Karlos Nasar and Antonio Pizzolato

This weight class has always produced superstars. The European Championships in Tirana, Albania, was the first time that these two athletes met in a major tournament and both were astonishing. The then 18-year-old Nasar finished second with a good total of 382 kg, ahead of Italy's Pizzolato, who was in top form and broke the world records in the clean and jerk (217 kg) and the total (392 kg). The Italian then missed four major competitions and Nasar became a "beast", especially in the clean and jerk. At the European Championships in Yerevan in 2023, Nasar broke Pizzolato's records with 221 kg in the clean and jerk and 395 kg in the total. Nasar and Pizzolato met again at the IWF Grand Prix 2023 in Doha, where the Bulgarian won the clean and jerk with a new world record of 223 kg after a close contest in the snatch.

Will there be another epic battle in Sofia? Naser is inconsistent in the snatch and perhaps Pizzolato can try to create a gap and then give his best in the clean and jerk. He is only tenth in the Olympic rankings, so he has to improve his total of 380 kg and will be motivated. Nasar will also be motivated by the home crowd.

Antonio Pizzolato with his Tokyo 2020 bronze medal. GETTY IMAGES
Antonio Pizzolato with his Tokyo 2020 bronze medal. GETTY IMAGES

Weight to watch - Men's -102 kg, because of Yauheni Tikhantsou, Garik Karapetyan, Samvel Gasparyan 

The -102 kg category could be one of the closest weightlifting events at Paris 2024. 6-7 weightlifters will be fighting for medals in Paris. Armenian youngster Garik Karapetyan will be a threat in this category in the future, but will he make it to Paris? His team-mate Samvel Gasparyan is 1kg ahead of him in the Olympic rankings. Meanwhile, former World champion Yauheni Tikhantsou (AIN) is also looking to improve his ranking. These three will battle for gold in Sofia and it could be a breathtaking contest.

Weight to watch - Men's +109kg, simply because of Lasha Talakhadze

Is there any doubt that the Georgian legend will be the main star in Sofia? Perhaps Lasha may not be as phenomenal as in 2021, when he set a world record in all disciplines (225-267-492), but he is still far better than his opponents. It will also be interesting to see how the Armenian athletes Varazdat Lalayan and Simon Marirosyan have improved their results since 2023.

Lalayan is one of the contenders for the silver medal in Paris, Martirosyan is still far from his teammate as he is still getting used to the new bodyweight category, but the silver medal in the clean and jerk at the 2023 World Championships shows that he can be successful at +109 kg too.  The battle between the two Armenian giants will be very interesting.