The Difference Between Gold and Silver for Waldemar Baszanowski: 300 Grams

waldemar-baszanowski
Waldemar Baszanowski of Poland at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

It’s a game of grams. Waldemar Baszanowski of Poland and Valdimir Kaplunov of the Soviet Union battled through the three events that make up weightlifting competition: the military press, the snatch and the clean & jerk.

The world record holder at the time, Baszanowski, trailed behind two other favorites, teammate Marian Zielinski and Kaplunov, after the completion of the military press. But Baszanowski got back into a tie for the lead with the Russian after the snatch. In the final round, both Baszanowski and Kaplunov ended lifting the same weight in the clean and jerk, resulting in a world record tie, a total of 432.5 kg over the three weightlifting events.

After the final lift, the final ruling was out of their hand. Here’s how Neil Allen in his book, Olympic Diary Tokyo 1964, told the story.

The moment of victory was most unclear in the weightlifting over at Shibuya Hall where Poland’s Waldemar Baszanowski beat Russian Vladimir Kaplunov by the margin of 10.5822 oz. (300 grams) This was the difference in his body weight and that of Kaplunov and it was the only way of dividing two men who both broke the world lightweight record with a total lift of 953 1/2 lb. (432.5kg) Baszanowski held the previous record of 947 3/4 lb. (429.9kg) But it was only after an enervating tactical battle, and records beaten in all three movements, that he was able to give the mixed smile of relieve and exhilaration which is the right of the champion.

That’s right – the tiebreaker in weightlifting is the difference in body weight. The lighter of the two, in this instance was Baszanowski. Only three hundred grams separated gold from silver.

While Baszanowski would win gold convincingly four years later in Mexico City, Kaplunov in 1964 may have been wondering what he had for breakfast that fateful day.