Estonia’s debut at the Olympic Games in 1920 was a great success – three medals were won at the VII Olympic games held in Antwerp. The first Estonian to achieve the glory of an Olympic win was Alfred Neuland (1895-1966) from Valga. He won the gold medal in weightlifting by lifting 257.5 kg in the men’s lightweight class (men under 67.5 kg). The victory was indisputable as Neuland’s results were the best in all three lifts: 72.5 kg in one hand snatch, 75 kg in one hand clean and jerk and 110 kg in two hands clean and jerk.
Alfred Neuland was a hero on many levels. He fought in World War I and the Estonian War of Independence, worked as a businessman, a weightlifting coach and a sports referee and he published several articles on weightlifting. A monument is erected in his hometown, Valga, and memorial competitions are organised in his honour. 2020 marked the 125th birthday of the first Estonian Olympic champion.