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Indoor World Athletics 2022: blue weightlifters in strong growth, but an exploit will be needed for the podium


The “strange couple” is ready for the first challenge in the world. Two years ago Zane Weir was a South African weightlifter and Nick Ponzio an emerging American weightlifter. Only one thing in common: having Italian ancestors (Sicilian great-grandparents Nick and grandfather Mario, Zane). Both have embarked on the path to take Italian citizenship and in Italy I have grown from a competitive point of view until last Sunday reaching two world-class results and to enter even more vehemently in the lot of great favorites for the podium at the World Championships in Belgrade. .

In Leiria (Portugal), where on Sunday they competed outdoors in the European Throwing Cup, a stratospheric Zane Weir threw the weight at 21.99 meters: second Italian ever in the outdoor version (on par with Leonardo Fabbri, who touched that measure at the Absolutes of 2020), better than him only the legend Alessandro Andrei (22.91 in 1987). Nick Ponzio, on the other hand, reached 21.83 meters: fourth blue all-time and second place in Lusitanian soil.

Italy dreams one week before the Indoor World Championships (18-20 March in Belgrade), even if on that occasion they will compete in the hall and some values ​​could change. It should be remembered that Nick Ponzio set the Italian indoor record just six days ago in the Serbian capital (21.61), while Zane Weir had obtained 21.50 in Torun as his best winter performance. It is clearly the staff for both: the 26-year-old of South African origins improved on 21.66 last year, the 27-year-old American-trained has filed the 21.72 of 2020 (always means outdoors).

The challenge is launched to the great interpreters of the specialty who have already reached important measures this season. The world podium goal is complicated but not impossible for the Azzurri. The American Ryan Crouser, Olympic and World Champion, has already reached 22.51, commands the seasonal world lists and appears unattainable. The Italians are targeting the Polish Konrad Bukowiecki (21.91), the Croatian Filip Mihaljevic (21.84) who are the men to beat to get a place on the podium. It should be noted that the three opponents of the Azzurri have performed exclusively in the indoor version in the last two months.