Weightlifting news and views

Sportivny Press 2015

Sportivny Press, now www.sportivnypress.com, of Livonia Michigan came into existence in 1982 with the publication of an English translation of the Russian text The Snatch the Clean and Jerk, by Robert Roman.

When I met Roman for the first time in Moscow in 1983; I brought him two copies of the translation. He was terribly flattered someone would take the time and effort to translate his book into English. The following day he brought me several books which were essentially unavailable, unless someone actually hand passed them to you.

Over the years I was fortunate to meet and or attend lectures from a number of the founding fathers of Soviet weightlifting sport science such as Robert Roman, Leonid Sokolov, Alexei Medvedyev, Alexandr Lukashev, Valentin Oleshko, Vladimir Kanyevsky and Petr Poletayev.

As mentioned, many of the Russian books and articles of the Soviet era, once published were unavailable by means other than obtaining a copy from someone fortunate enough to have purchased one; or was given copies. A number of what I call white publications were printed by the institute of sport and were not for sale to the public. Consequently, they were made available to the students and the staff of the sport institutes in Moscow and Lenningrad. Medvedyev’s group in Moscow produced many of these white publications for the students who were specializing in weightlifting at the institute of sport.

I purchased two of the Yearbooks (Yezhegodnik) from Moscow book stores in 1979 for approximately $0.25 each. While I was attending the 2004 European Championships in Kiev, Valentin Oleshko took me to the library of the Kiev Institute of Sport to pull several books from the shelves so that I could photo copy articles; unthinkable in communist times.

Of all places, the National Medical library of the USA and the Library of Congress, the University of Maryland and University of Pennsylvania all had small collections of these books. When I went to the libraries in DC and Bethesda, Maryland it was necessary to seek out the librarian specializing in Russian language publications to find where the texts could be found in their stacks, or, to simply be able to distinguish one from another.

For instance, three or four texts were published in 1970 and 1971 under same title: Tiiazhelaya Atletika. The author of one of the books was six time world, two time Olympic champion, A.N. Vorobeyev, M.D., Phd. Three others were the fore runners of the weightlifting yearbooks; previously called Tribuna Masterov. They were compilations of articles from coaches and other sport scientists. Consequently, special knowledge of the history of these publications was required to differentiate one from the other and do the detective work to track them down.

Two translations of articles recently posted on www.sportivnypress.com came from books found either at the Library of Congress or the National Medical Library in Bethesda. Concepts presented in these articles: “The significance of speed in weightlifting” and “Optimum width of the grip in the snatch” were light years ahead of their time; and, still way ahead today.

However, the one of the most important sources of these Soviet texts for Sportivny Press was Inge Johansson, the former national coach of Sweden. Inge’s assistance was invaluable in acquiring this literature and we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Such were the beginnings of bringing Soviet era weightlifting sport science to English.
A total of fourteen books and/or Russian Weightlifting yearbooks which are journals consisting of compilations of articles followed the initial publication.

The online publication of translations and other original articles started in the 1990s as part of the www.dynamicfitnessequipment.com web site. Consequently, linking the current updated version of Sportivny Press continues this long standing cooperation.

Over the years the content of Sportivny Press has expanded to other facets of knowledge beyond just Olympic weightlifting. The section of articles and reviews called Misinformation Engineering is devoted to dispelling myths about weightlifting, strength training, online hucksters and so forth. That being said, for the first time videos have been inserted into the online articles to better illustrate the content.

The videos are set up to prevent them from being copied or otherwise tampered with. The reason for this is not to protect ownership, but to the protect each athlete from exploitation in the wild west of the internet. There are too many examples of videos thoughtlessly posted on the net of weightlifters injured, falling and so forth, to list here. Some are pathetic exercises in rudeness.

However, one example of banality, crassness, ignorance personified, was described in the Misinformation article “What is the C.h.e.c.k. for? Another video of a lifter dislocating his elbow at the Beijing Olympics is a permanent fixture on the net; serving no purpose other than to humiliate the athlete.

The first of our videos posted for the express purpose of education to those of us engaged in sport science can be found in two articles “It’s all connected” parts II and III. These videos presented in the context of sport science to elucidate and inform the weightlifting community about injuries stand in stark contrast to those posted on the internet for anyone to leer as an athlete is injured.

Each of these highly skilled athletes should have been injured but were not; and, in the interest of safety, that is what we need to understand: why? They are teaching us, we are not leering at them. If any objections are raised by the athletes in question, coaches or federations about a specific video, it will of course be removed.

Andrew ‘Bud’ Charniga

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