The 2104 European Championships Part II
The fact that Tom Goegebuer (BEL), who at 39, was easily old enough to be the father of the three medalists, was not only entered, but competitive in the 56 kg class, says as much about his lasting talent as it does about the lack of talent and depth in the light weight classes of European weightlifting. For instance, the winning result in this class of 259 kg is significantly below international results in the range of 280 – 290+.
The results of the 62 kg class similar to those of the 56 kg class are also well below standards set by Asian lifters. Even though Filyev’s 299 is laudable, he is 27 years old which makes his long term prospects marginal.
69 – 77 kg
O. Chen (RUS) the silver medalist from Wroclaw was the easy winner in this class, but he like the gold medalists in the 56 and 62 is already 26 and his clean and jerk results are rather low. Even his snatch of 151 kg here in Tel Aviv is a good lift in Asia, but in the 62 kg class.
This brings us to the 77 kg class. The two Albanians Qerimaj and Godelli easily went one – two in this class. However, Qerimaj is 26 and showing signs of aging. Godelli is 22 but has poor arm lock. If you are looking for high results in time for Rio, the first and necessary foremost attribute is coordination which in weightlifting is called technical mastery. Of the three medalists future potential has to be defined in terms of youth and technical mastery.
That is why the sight of the youngest athlete, the Russian bronze medalist missing his opening jerk with 185 kgs was so deplorable. The Russian failed to jerk the weight. He, along with the Russian coaches and other Russian spectators in the stands, made a sorry spectacle of themselves; protesting to the officials the bar was mis-loaded; which it was. The left side of the bar was loaded correctly with three 25 kgs, a 5 kg, and collars. The right side had the same weights except a 2.5 kg disc instead of a five.
The Russian was so distracted by the weight differential, he could not complete the exercise. The left side of the barbell was heavier by a measure 3.2% of his body weight. Lost in the controversy was why this athlete jerks the barbell with such poor, unorthodox technique. Consequently, he cannot begin to cope with a relatively minor distraction in the presence of his complete absence of rational technique.
The Soviet Union, which practically invented the modern weightlifting sport scientist, can boast of weightlifting experts in all facets of weightlifting sport – including the jerk from the chest. One associates the science of jerk technique from the chest with names such as Nicolai Luchkin, L. N. Sokolov, R.A. Roman, I. P. Zhekov, and so forth. That is why by all rights, the Russian coaches working with this athlete should have been wearing their t-shirts inside out to hide the word “Russia”; and, should have hid their faces with brown paper bags.
Why such a nasty critique? Consider the following two incidences.
WANG Mingjuan 48 kg (CHN) selected 118 kg for her third lift at the 2009 WWC to win the gold in the jerk. The barbell was loaded correctly on the left side but a 2.5 kg disc (the same for the Russian at this Europeans) was left off the right side. Despite the disparity of a weight over 5% of the lifter’s body-weight heavier on the left side of the bar WANG managed to complete the lift. She instinctively made the adjustment to lift the weight despite the additional difficulty involved.
After dropping the weight, she stepped to the right to look at that side of the barbell to confirm what she just experienced was a mis-loaded barbell. No whining, no protest was made. Some fifteen or more minutes after the realization sunk in that the barbell had been mis-loaded to 115.5 kg, the officials decided to nullify the attempt and gave the athlete 7 minutes to re – warmup for 118 kg. She declined to do so and lost the gold medal.
Two years after WANG’s unfortunate experience, Maya Maneza (KAZ) attempted 147 kg to win first in total and set a new world record at the 2011 World Championships in Paris.The right side of the bar did not have the requisite 1 kg disc on the outside of the collar. She failed to lift the uneven 145 kgs; a sizable distraction if you consider the discs placed out – side the collar are further away from the center of the bar.
Fortunately, the mistake did not take 15 minutes after the fact to discover and sort out. She was granted another attempt, but the damage was done and she was unable to successfully lift it. No world championship gold in total, no world record, no whining, no protest.
What is the difference between the two females and the cry – baby Russians? Both possessed good technique especially in the jerk from the chest and both went on the win the gold medal in London.
So, what about Soccer?
The all too apparent difficulty in weightlifting sport, especially at the international level, with providing the correct weight of barbell for an athlete who has only three tries in each of two exercises is in dire need of some perspective.
Elite level soccer is played on a field 100 – 110 m in length, by 64 – 75 m in width; an area of some 6,400 – 8,250 sq. meters. There are eleven players on a side, goalie inclusive. Then there is the ball; which when kicked about can reach speeds of more than 160 kilometers/hour. These aforementioned twenty – two players dash about, pushing, shoving, tearing at each others’ jerseys, tripping, kicking and yes, even biting each other over this relatively vast expanse of playing field. Soccer allots one official referee and two assistants, i.e., a mere three people to cover this vast swath of mayhem.
Now consider weightlifting.
The competition platform is a mere 4m x 4m; an area of 16 sq/m. A single weightlifter at a time is permitted in this relatively small area to attempt to raise a single barbell. The heavy weight of the apparatus precludes fast movement.
Nine officials are allotted to officiate weightlifting competitions: three referees, a reserve referee and a jury of five officials whom have the authority to over – rule the decisions of the aforesaid three. In addition to these officials there are scorekeepers, a multi – lingual announcer, an assortment of computers, video monitors, and, of course, loaders (some of whom presumably can count); those individuals whose job it is to place the correct weight on the barbell.
The protocol established to load the competition barbell correctly, can be said with sufficient justification, to be idiot proof. Each disc is color coded and is placed on the barbell in such an order so as to conform only to a specific weight. For instance, 175 kilos for a male weightlifter can be loaded correctly onto the competition barbell only one way: with three (3) red 25 kg discs on each side of the bar; with one chrome plated 2.5 kg collar are each side. In the event someone in authority has difficulty adding up the individual discs loaded on the barbell, he/she can simply glance at the apparatus and count the colors, sizes, and order of discs. In this example – six red bumpers, a 20 kg bar and two 2.5 kg metal collars = 175 kgs.
So, how is it possible nine officials along with assorted staff of loaders and other officials find it so difficult to manage a single athlete, lifting a single barbell within the confines of such a small 4 m x 4m area? While, on the other hand, how is it a mere three referees manage to officiate 22 athletes dashing around a relatively speaking, vast area of 6,400 – 8,250 sq. meters?
Ivan Markov made five good lifts to win this class easily. However, this is one of the classes Europe counts on to win a gold medal at the World Championships and Olympic Games; but outside of Markov and a Russian there is isn’t sufficient depth to push the top guys.
The Zielinski brothers (POL) pretty much had this class to themselves. Adrian made three good snatches and two clean and jerks. His only miss was the jerk with 215 kg; despite an easy clean with this weight. Jerking with a bent rear leg is thought by some to be more efficient. This is not true.
There is nothing in the weightlifting biomechanics literature to even suggest it would be. In this case, lifting without any real pressure, Zielinski made two good jerks with 205, and 210. A bent back leg is something you have to think about when performing – it is not reactive. So, when Adrian went to “think” jerk the 215, it wasn’t even close, even though the clean was rather easy. He was lucky to make one jerk from the chest with 205, in the conditions of intense psychological pressure on his home turf in Wroclaw .
By contrast 21 – year old Vasil Gospodinov (BUL) made three good lifts from the chest scissoring under the barbell with straight back leg. The third jerk with 205 came after a big struggle to clean the weight. He performed the classic technique (which does not require the “thinking” needed for the bent back leg technique), under more difficult conditions, i.e., after big strain to clean the weight. Nobody seems to notice this kind of guy who does nothing fancy but gets the job done. They usually just see the guy with the bent back leg and try to emulate it.
The story in this class was not who won but who didn’t. As described in part one, observations of Andre Aramnau’s training indicated he was having problems. This observation was confirmed with his performance in the competition. Aramnau made three good snatches finishing with 184, sixteen kilos below his best in this weight class. He was lucky to make his second at 182, after running forward and to the side.The 184 was the best lift with the lowest squatting under the barbell.
In the clean and jerk he opened with 212 kg. He pulled forward and hopped forward; in the Aramnau style flipped the weight off his chest and with just a very brief pause as the bar was oscillating, jerked the weight. This attempt was turned down. He repeated with the same weight; this time, cleaning it and jerking with no problem. He moved to 220 for his third. He pulled forward, hopped forward and seemed to clean it with no problem. However, after he jerked the weight to arms length, he apparently started to black out. He dropped the barbell and fell backward onto the platform. This weight was sixteen kilos below the 236 weight the nineteen year old Aramnau lifted in Beijing.
It is one thing to have some minor flaw in technique, which in his case could be said to begin the half squat for the jerk without shifting the barbell backward so that it it can be lowered and raised relatively vertically. You can get away with minor flaws if you are a super athlete, in the full bloom of youth, as he was in Beijing. But at this point in time, the 25 year old looked more like a super athlete within a 35 year old body: that minor flaw which would have went unnoticed as he destroyed the competition at the 2007 WWC and in China at the Olympics, was suddenly magnified. He was the same person, the same athlete, but the body had changed.
The world champion Albegov (RUS) was rumored to be starting here in Tel Aviv but the Russians sent Alexei Lovchev instead. It wasn’t too long ago that the weightlifting authorities thought a tall (by weightlifting standards) athlete could not be be successful at the international level. However, this guy, who sustained a minor injury in Wroclaw, straining to jerk 240 kg was a different lifter here. Employing an un – Russian, sloppy jerk from the chest, he made only 230 kg in Poland at a body weight of 129.
In Tel Aviv, at a little over 134 kg, he opened with a smooth, hop back 192 kg. Lovchev’ s arms are so long, even with his a collar to collar grasp, the hand spacing seems a little close. Hopping back about 18 cm and dropping low, very fast Lovchev made another easy lift with 197. Lifting more like he was from Asia, the big Russian hopped back, sank very low, and very fast to make 205 kg – 5 kg more than he made in October, in Wroclaw. By comparison, some of the other guys snatched like they were trying to re – invent the wheel. For instance, does it add up, that somebody can squat 300 kg ten times but snatch only 182?
Lovchev opened with an easy clean of 235, followed by a good a jerk. By contrast fellow Russian Muratov haphazardly jerked 225, and 230; but, when he got to 235 the haphazard jerk from the chest technique did not work.
Pulling forward, then hopping back, the guy with the big squat muscled a 236 push press, with sort of a split, good lift. Lovchev went to 245. After almost losing his balance backwards in the clean; he compensated with an excellent jerk. This is not the same guy who lifted in Wroclaw. Armenian Alexanyan muscled up a 246 clean, followed by a lucky to get forward jerk. He struggled at the top of the clean recovery on 251, such that oscillating bar seemed to oscillate his whole body when he finally stood erect; no chance at the jerk.
Lovchev, concluded the championships with his best effort of the night. He stretched himself into a deep split for such a big man; to secure the gold medal with 252 kg.