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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Brief history of modern weightlifting ( so you don't look like a Dumbass)

Preface:
I was watching my daughter compete at the Youth International at the OTC. I watched it over the livestream.  Then, my ears bled.

A particular Youth Olympian could not answer the simplest trivia question-" which weightlifter was the model for the bronze statue in front of the Colorado Springs OTC?" .  I have trained at the OTC for National Junior Team camps at least 4 times. The first history lesson you get is that the statue is modeled after Wes Barnett. Ok, so, may be they don't tell kids who LIVE at the OTC this fact any more.

And, my ears began to bleed more when the so-called youth Olympian had no idea who Wes Barnett was and only sort of knew who Brianna Barnett (his niece) is.  He's just one of one the USA's most successful Male lifters of the 90's. Like recent history, like he's the last male to at the world championships.  It's like a Red Sox player not knowing who Johhny Damon was to them or the curse of the Bambino.

On the other hand, I've had the same experience of not knowing enough history in the show jumping world, when talking to my trainer who knows the likes of George Morris and Beezie Madden. Then again, I'm not pretending to be at the same level in riding that I am in weightlifting.

In effect, I felt empathy for this poorly informed youth Olympian, and , so, internets, here's some bonafide weightlifting history that you need to know.

Disclaimer:
This is not an exhaustive list. That would take too long to write, and you'd probably stop reading after page 6.  I'm sure some old school lifters will point out that I left off Alexeev, Yanko Rusev, Paul Anderson..etc...etc.  This should be a good starting point, though, if you truly want to become a weightlifting geek.

Also, I'm not citing any sources, for the most part, because all this information should be common knowledge, like who was the first president of the United States, and which states border Alaska (trick question- gotcha).

 So, for the ADD internet age of the 2010's here you go:
I'm leaving out photos so you can focus on memorizing these facts ;)


First weightlifter to win 4 Olympic Medals: Norbert Schemansky, USA. 1948,1952,1960,1964

Possibly oldest Olympic Medalist in weightlifting: Norbert Schemansky 1948 Silver, 1952 gold, 1960 bronze, 1964 bronze. He  turned 40 the same year he won his last Olympic Medal!  

First 3 time Olympic Gold Medalist: Naim Suleymonoglu, TUR  1988, 1992, 1996
Won all 3 medals for Turkey. Lifted for Bulgaria prior. Was started by Enver Turkeleri. Trained with Ivan Abadjiev when winning ’96 Gold.  He won his last gold as a 64kg lifter . He asserts he would have won a 4th gold at the 1984 Olympics, which Bulgaria boycotted with the other Iron curtain countries. Bombed out at 2000 Olympics for 4th shot at Olympic Gold.

First weightlifter to clean and jerk 3 times bodyweight: Stefan Topurov, Bulgaria , early 1980’s

First female weightlifter to snatch double bodyweight: Taylan Nurcan, Turkey, 2004 Olympic Games, 48kg weight class

Second ever 3 time Olympic Gold medalist: Pyrros Dimas, Albania & Greece, 1992, 1996, 2000, won bronze in 2004.  He is the closest athlete to ever win a 4th gold medal. His last attempt at the clean and jerk in 2004 would have given him gold; he missed the jerk. In effect, he is arguably the most successful weightlifter at the Olympic level,


Probably the Second ever  4 time Olympic Medalist: Ronny Weller, Germany. 1988 Bronze , 1992 Gold, 1996 Silver, 2000 Silver.   His main rival in the late 90’s was Andrei Chermerkin of Russia who weighed considerably more than Weller.  He was 110kg class in ’88.  Superheavyweight in ’96 & 2000 Olympics

One of the few people to ever beat Suleymonoglu in his prime & Probably  the Third ever 4 Time Olympic Medalist- Nikolay Peshalov, Bulgaria and Croatia.   While lifting for Bulgaria 1992 silver , 1996 Bronze.  While lifting for Croatia: Gold 2000, Bronze 2004.  Peshalov also has the best hair.  His hair is reminiscent of Howard Stern, full and curly. When your this good, wear your hair how you like.
Anecdotal story: When I trained in Bulgaria in 2008, Dravco Stoichkov reffered to Peshalov, affectionately, as “crazy man”. I think, in English, this would translate to “badass”. I am still iso honored that I got to do a few training sessions in his presence, while he lifted in a platform across from me. When my husband, Ivan Rojas, arm wrestled Peshalov, he reported he felt an electric surge, like lightening, from the champs arms.  I also found Peshalov to be such an awesome person. For one, he has sophisticated coffee preferences. All coffee in Bulgaria is like expresso, and he, like myself, does not like American coffee because it is “filtered and weak” .  He also said, to paraphrase, people see him as a champion, and he is human like everyone else.  Yes, he is one of my all time favorites.  Only great things to say about this LEGEND. See photos elsewhere on this blog and video on my youtube.

Third ever 3 time Olympic gold medalist: Khaki Khakisvillis, Unified Team 1992, Greece 1996, 2000. Bombed out 2004.

Fourth ever 3 time Olympic gold medalist: Halil Mutlu, Turkey, formerly of Bulgaria.  1996, 2000, 2004

The USA and America’s:

First Ever Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion for the USA: Tony Terlazzo 1936 Gold, 1932 Bronze

First  ever female Olympic Gold Medalist: Tara (Nott) Cunningham, USA, 2000 , 48kg class.

USA's last Olympic medalist to date: Tara (Nott) Cunningham, USA, 2000 , 48kg class

Noted Two Time Olympic Gold medalist: John Davis 1948 Gold, 1952 Gold ; 6 time world champion

Last USA man to win a gold medal at the Olympics to date: Chuck Vinci , 1960

Last USA man to medal at the Olympics to date : Mario Martinez, 1984

Last USA man to medal at the World Championships to date: Wes Barnett, 1997 medal in clean and jerk and total.  Silver in C&J, bronze in total.

Most successful US weightlifter to date: Tie between Tommy Kono and Norbert Schemansky
Norbert Schemansky was the first lifter to win 4 Olympic Medals, the oldest:  1948 Silver, 1952 gold, 1960bronze, 1964 bronze. He  turned 40 the same year he won his last Olympic Medal!  He’s still alive, somewhere in Michigan.  We should give him an award at every single National meet.  There's also a biography on him, you should pick up.
Tommy Kono Gold 1952, Gold 1956, silver 1960 . 8 time medalist at world championships. Kono is the only Olympic weightlifter in history to have set world records in four different weight classes[1] lightweight (149 pounds or 67.5 kilograms), middleweight (165 lb or 75 kg), light-heavyweight (182 lb or 82.5 kg), and middle-heavyweight (198 lb or 90 kg). He’s written a number of books you can pick-up.

2 time Olympic gold medalists from the USA: John Davis 1948, 1952

3 time Olympic Medalist from the USA, Pete George 1948 silver, 1952 Gold, 1956 Silver. Also one of most successful male weightlifters for the USA in the World championships.

First Olympic Gold medalist in Latin America: Daniel Nunez, Cuba, 1980 .

First American female  world champion: Karyn Marshall. " She set 60 American and world records in women's weightlifting and is the first woman in history to clean and jerk over 300 lb (136 kg)"

Most decorated weightlifter in the America’s: Robin (Byrd) Goad. She is a World Champion and many , many time world medalist, also, broke the world record. She did compete at the 2000 Olympics and barely missed a medal as a 48kg.

First American to clean and jerk over 500lbs: Mark Cameron- the most badass lifter ever.  You can train with the living legend in Rhode Island.

First woman in Americas to clean and jerk over double bodyweight: Melanie (Kosoff) Roach, 1998, 58kg class

Last USA woman to Medal at the Olympics to date: Cheryl Haworth, Bronze 2000


Last US woman to Medal at the World Championships to date:  Cheryl Haworth 2005, Bronze


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