The earliest evidence of weightlifting dates to China’s Zhou Dynasty, which took place from the 10th century B.C. until 256 B.C. During this time, military recruits were required to pass weightlifting tests before they were accepted into the military. Various sculptures from ancient Greek civilizations also portray the sport, depicting Greeks lifting heavy stones. Eventually, the Greeks substituted large heavy bells for primitive dumbbells. Ancient Egyptian artifacts also depict the sport of weightlifting; according to these artifacts, Egyptians lifted heavy bags of sand as a form of physical training.
The sport of weightlifting made its first Olympic appearance at the 1896 games. During these games, Launceston Elliott of Great Britain won the “One-Hand Lift” contest; Viggo Jensen of Denmark won the “Two-Hand Lift.” The sport did not appear in the 1900 Olympic Games but returned to the scene for the 1904 games. In the 1904 games, a Greek competitor secured the gold medal for “Two-Hand Lift” and Oscar Osthoff secured the gold for the “All-Around Dumbbell” contest. The sport was again eliminated from the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1912 but returned to the Olympics permanently in 1920. By the 1932 Olympic Games, five weight divisions had been established and competition featured three disciplines: the press, snatch and clean and jerk.