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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Part 2: Kazakhstan, the superstars of weightlifting at Risto Sports

Aleksey Ni with Svetlana
Podobedova winning Gold
at the 2012 Olympics in London
Aleksey Ni hugging Maiya Maneza
with Viktor Ni after winning gold  in London
This week, I had the chance to hang out with the Kazakhstan weightlifting federation at Risto Sports. If you don't already know, Kazakhstan is the superstar of the Olympic Weightlifting World. I would describe their two time Olympic Gold medalist,  Ilya Ilyin, as the next Pyrros Dimas.  Their female lifters – Svetlana Podobedova, Maiya Maneza, and Zulfiya Chinshanlo- are the gold trifecta of women’s weightlifting. I'm also a huge fan of all three. 


Aleksey Ni tackling Ilya Ilyin,
after winning Gold at the Beijing Olympics
Aleksey and Viktor Ni celebrating
Chinshanlo winning Gold
Many have also described the Kazakhstan coaching staff as the most enthusiastic in the weightlifting world.  In this post, I'll write about what I learned from the Head Coach, Aleksey Ni; Head women's coach, Viktor Ni; and General Secretary, Mendikhan Tapsir.  Quite frankly, I am hugely flattered by the fact that they were paying attendees at the conference at Risto Sports, travelling all the way from Almaty to Eliot, Maine, just to hear our presentations.  


Yes, for the record, in true Gwen style, when we went to visit Boston, I took them to Cambridge, first-- cause you can get a better view of the MIT Dome from Rt 3 than from Sturrow Drive.




Getting to the Facts:

First, let's start with how their federation is organized.

1. How is the Kazakhstan Federation is organized
Aleksey Ni is the Head Coach of Kazakhstan, hence you will see him at all the major competitions- with Ilin, Maneza, Podobedova, Chinshanlo-- counting attempts, coaching, etc.  All coaches report into Aleksey Ni, and Aleksey reports to Mendikhan Tapsir, the General Secretary.  Now, athletes may have their personal coaches.  For example, Victor Ni coaches Svetlana Podobedova, Maiya Maneza, and Zulfiya Chinshanlo.  Ilya Ilyin has his own coach who also reports to Aleksey Ni.  Athletes will train in their home location, then converge several times out of the year at a national team training camp. Aleksey is responsible for overseeing the training camps.  An athlete may make the national team by winning the Kazakh nationals, regardless of age. Again, Victor, Aleksey, and Mendikhan were all present at Risto Sports.  About 5 years ago, there were only 600 lifters; now, there are about 3000.

Kazakhstan in Eliot, ME, Dr Herrera, Mendikhan Tapsir, Ivan Rojas,  Viktor Ni, Aleksey Ni,  and Carlos Andica


2. The Kazakhstan Training system

In the words of  Aleksey Ni, several years ago, no one would have thought that Kazakhstan could have taken home 4 gold medals at the London Olympics. So, how did they do it: talented athletes, a solid training system, government funding.
Mendikhan, Aleksey Ni, Viktor Ni, and Ivan Rojas
look on as a lifter trains at Risto Sports

In Kazakhstan, lifters are trained in the Soviet system, the same system I use at Risto Sports (yeah, we compared notes).  When lifters reach master of sport, they are then put on a hybrid program. About 8 years ago, they brought  Enver Turkeleri, Naim Suleymonoglu's coach, to Kazakhstan. Hence, the master of sport system reflects his influences.

Note, almost all athletes in the USA are NOT master's of sport, so we should all be using the Soviet System to get to that level.  What I will say about the master of sport system, is that it uses the same philosophy of varying loading and intensity and just uses different intensity zones with even fewer number of exercises (again, unless you're vying for a medal in the total at the Olympics, you should be doing the Soviet System).



Mendikhan volunteering some pointers to LG


A dialog in Russian, English and Spanish 

Me (Gwen Sisto) lifting while Ivan gets to hang with our new buddies
Dr Herrera looks on, makes sure I don't take long breaks


Mendikhan, Aleksey, Viktor, and Ivan Rojas

Group photo for the ages- Dr Herrera, Carlos Andica, Aleksey Ni, Viktor Ni, Ivan  Rojas,  LG, Gwen Sisto,
Mendikhan Tapsir, and Diego Salazar




Look for more publications on these systems from Risto Sports.


Me with LG and our great friend Mendikhan Tapsir
I can feel myself getting smarter just standing between these great minds
Viktor Ni showing us photos of Maiya Maneza and Zulfiya Chinshanlo in Kazakhstan after they won the Olympics
in 2012
Yes, he really does coach Olympic Gold medalists Maiya Maneza, Chinshanlo, and Podobedova

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Eliot, ME

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