The 2008 Olympic Games: Beijing China
August 9 – 19, 2008
Andrew Charniga, Jr.
Outstanding Performances of the Chinese Women
The outstanding performances of the Chinese women was the subject of much speculation and, as already mentioned, sour grapes. A report in the Russian press, “The Chinese are super doping,” listed four possible reasons for the results of the Chinese team in Beijing (including sports other than weightlifting).
1. “A new generation of steroids: The Chinese pharmacologists have coupled intensified work with the Olympic effort to cope with the struggle against doping. The WADA doctors are simply unable to detect these special preparations.
2. The Chinese are not carrying out doping. The Olympic hosts have found the best training regimes for their athletes. Oxsana Slivenko says with indignation ‘that the sportsmen from under the heavens are rarely tested; and, the rest of the time the doctors lose the samples.’
3. Eastern medicine: Virtually no one in Europe has knowledge of the capabilities Eastern medicine. They only laugh foolishly when they hear about bone powder of snakes, but Chinese doctors have thousands of these means.
4. Tai chi: As far as Europeans know, the ancient Chinese masters of Tai chi did only breathing exercises. But, in reality, the Tai Chi master is able to mobilize super abilities. And, since it is commonplace to shatter a block of stone with the bare hand, the abilities are unlimited.”
Undetectable banned substances are of course a possibility. But why is it that it is always the winners who know about these things and the also rans do not? This was the case when there was no testing. The bad guys (winners) always seem to know something the good guys did not.
As far as the lack of testing or lost samples is concerned, this author witnessed WADA select Cao Lei (China) for testing, among others, in the training hall at the 2007 world championships in Thailand, with no prior notice, some six days before her competition.
Ms. Slivenko’s comments (number 2) appear to indicate she was tested and of course was not cheating. Maybe that is the reason her clean and jerk plummeted from 156 kg in Thailand to 140 kg in Beijing.
Eastern medicine and Tai chi have been around forever. If these are plausible reasons behind the emergence of Chinese sport, then it has been long over due.
Serious consideration should be given to the allusion to optimum training regimes in number 2. An essential part of optimum training is a reward program with successful performances. Substantial rewards for success create a super motivated athlete willing to push himself or herself to achieve the seemingly impossible.
JANG Mi – Ran (KOR)
The China Daily reported that Chen Xiexia (PRC), the gold medalist of the 48 kg class, (the first gold medal awarded) was to receive 10,000,000.00 Chinese Yuan (about $1,500,000.00 USD) for this achievement. This is an enormous sum for someone who grew up in the poorest region of China and whose mother was still washing the family laundry in a stream.
Chen Xiexia (PRC) 48 kg doing repetition snatches with 80 kg for warm up. Charniga photo
Furthermore, the Chinese are not the only ones who have “optimum training regimes.” Ilya Ilyn, the 94 kg champion from Kazakhstan, will receive $1,650,000.00 for his gold medal.
Ilyn (KAZ) 94 kg with 180 kg snatch. Charniga photo
Some Lessons from Beijing and Suggestions for Improving the Sport
Without question this was a fantastic event with arguably the whole world watching. That being the case, what would be best is for everyone involved in this sport, everyone who wants to see the sport prosper, must, first and foremost, stop talking about doping, testing, and stop participating in the excuses race. All this does is keep the sparse media spotlight available focused on the negatives and away from the positives.
The coaches, athletes, and officials who attend these competitions with the same old delusions of “it’s the other guy who cheats” need to get with the program or find some other activity. They hurt the sport just as much as those who use banned substances.
The road to success in this sport has never been about some special exercise, training program, or super restoratives. It is now and always has been about hard work and ability.
Ilyn missing jerk with 223 kg
At the present time weightlifting is a sport in need of new ideas about training and new ideas/concepts in the biomechanics of weightlifting technique. There are too many old ideas still floating around. Old ideas such as the perceived need for periodization cycles for muscle hypertrophy is one. Recycling the limitations of the past are steps taken backwards not forwards.
Unfortunately, it seems obvious that many of today’s athletes and coaches do not know how to train without the use of banned restoratives. They have been unable to make the transition to modern, ever more invasive testing for banned substances. It is this area of preparation for competitions where the sport is in desperate need of new ideas and new methods.
An example was the rather large number of lifters wearing powerlifting wraps on their knees in training and in competition. This indicates that there is either a problem with the joints or the athlete is simply misinformed. Stiffening the joints will just make them bend slower which is counterproductive in weightlifting.
Hernandez (CUB) 94 kg Cleaning with heavy knee wraps Charniga photo
The technical rules having evolved over 100 years need to be updated. Nine officials are deployed for a single weightlifting session: three referees, an alternate, and a five person jury. In some cases, more officials are introduced for a session than are athletes participating; this redundancy function of the jury defies logic.
If they are to oversee and can overturn the decision of the referees, apparently they are better qualified to make that decision. So, why do you need three lower qualified people judging an Olympic competition? Presumably the disposition (proximity) of the referees around the platform is the most favorable vantage point to render a correct decision. Yet they are overseen by the five jury members who are not only further from the platform but are sitting at a different angle to the action.
Rules dating back to the strict press era are not only outdated but slow down the competitions and create unnecessary controversy. The following rules are antiquated and need to be eliminated from the rule book: the elbow touch in the clean, the press out in the snatch and the jerk, oscillation of the bar in the jerk.
There are no biomechanical advantages for the elbow touch or the press out. Deliberate oscillation of the bar requires a high level skill to perform correctly within an extremely limited amount of time, over an extremely small base of support, to accomplish the desired result. Trying to gain an advantage from oscillation can easily backfire and make the lift more difficult.
Of Wolves and Dogs III:
“There is nothing I fear.”
One of the false premises for making an excuse for failure, or a just a poor result is that one makes the assumption that he or she is the only one with a pain or a special problem. No one seems to take into account that the athletes placing higher might have a pain (either physical or psychological), injury, or some other problem; this, in turn, could hinder their results.
For example, consider the case of 48 kg Olympic champion Chen Xiexia. According to the English version of the China Daily, “Less than a month ago she was battling a leg injury that threatened to keep her out of the competition altogether. ‘Now there is nothing I fear after going through such a low period,’ the 25 year old said. Despite having spent the past thirteen years training for her shot at Olympic glory, Chen said that on the day of the event all she wanted was to do her best.”
This “there is nothing I fear” stands in stark contrast to a quote from a lifter who said “I can’t wait to hit snack alley” after her competition was over. One of the Korean female medalists was back in the training hall a day or two after her competition, already getting ready for the next competition. She even needed an ice pack on one knee after training. Now, who is the wolf and who is the dog here? The non medalist thinks of leisure; whereas, the medallist thinks of remaining a medalist.
Cao Lei, the 75 kg gold medalist was in training camp when her mother died about eight weeks before her competition. Her family tried to keep the news from her so as to not hurt her training for the Olympics. Finally she was told. Despite this personal tragedy, she kept training and of course won the gold medal. At the press conference following her competition, she said that thoughts of her mother prevented her from making her final attempt in the clean and jerk. However, by this time the goal was accomplished.
One needs to look only at foreign athletes for examples of an exemplary work ethic or moral courage. According to USA, Today, eight time gold medalist in swimming Michael Phelps, who opted to train in Ann Arbor, Michigan instead of at the Olympic Training Center, trains seven days per week. He feels this gives him a 52 day per year edge in training time over his competitors. If an athlete is training seven days a week, “hitting snack alley” is not one of the options for success.