doping · IOC · Olympic Sports · Olympics · Scandals · Weightlifting

Weightlifting Put on Notice

The IOC Executive Board met last week, and afterward, TBach gave a press release summarizing a lot of initiatives, including giving weightlifting a smackdown and putting the sport on notice.

What’s all this about? Well, doping’s been a slight issue in the Olympics lately, and weightlifters have been some of the biggest offenders. Retests going back to the 2008 Beijing games are still finding weightlifters who doped, which causes a lot of problems with medals and certificates being stripped, and then the athletes who are now getting awards for competition from eight years ago have lost out on a lot of opportunities, and then the IOC and the Olympics starts losing some integrity, and that’s not really how this org thinks they fly.

The IOC gave the International Weightlifting Federation until December to take care of the problem or at least have a plan for it. If they don’t, well, it might be adios for weightlifting as a sport in 2024. As a glimpse of what that might look like, in the IOC’s recently approved Tokyo 2020 program that removes one men’s event and wipes out 64 participants from those Games–a move that’s supposed to help them reach gender parity.

The IWF’s response is pretty timid–they’re shocked (surprise!) by the results of the retesting, and they’re going to get right on making that plan.

The European Weightlifting Federation, run by a guy who recently lost in the election to oust the incumbent IWF president (who just won his fifth term), was a little more critical on its website, saying that the cut in athletes was “just the first instalment [sic] of the price we will have to pay for years of inadequate management, which has showcased our sport as a doping factory run by private power.” You could hear that mic drop around the weightlifting world.

Good luck to them–changing the system can be pretty tough work, but the possibility of being ousted from the Olympics could make things a lot worse for the sport.

Olympic Sports · Weightlifting

Want to Try an Olympic Sport? Weightlifting Day is Tomorrow!

Haven’t you wondered how people get into some of the smaller Olympic sports? Take handball, for instance. It’s not necessarily a sport we learn in grade school gym class. Or badminton, which I did learn in high school (and loved), but didn’t know how to pursue any further because it wasn’t that popular of a sport.

Weightlifting’s also in that boat. If you’ve ever lifted weights at a gym for any amount of time, you know how great it feels when your muscles get stronger and make you feel more powerful. If you’re a competitive type, getting into the sport of weightlifting might be a great hobby for you. But how do you do that?

You’re in luck. Tomorrow, USA Weightlifting’s sponsoring Try Weightlifting Day. Over 200 clubs around the country will open their doors and have programming to introduce the sport and give you a hands-on feel for it.

I had an email conversation with Kevin Farley, Director of Membership, Communications & Digital Marketing at USA Weightlifting to get some more details about what you can expect from the event. Gyms involved may use USA Weightlifting Coaching Department’s one-hour coaching program that teaches the sport’s basic technical execution without having to lift actual weight. The secret? PVC pipe. “With no weights–there is no risk of injury,” says Farley.

If you’re interested in finding an event near you, check out USA Weightlifting’s site, which has a map showing all participating clubs. Contact a club near you to find out the exact time of their event. Farley recommended wearing hard-soled shoes and comfortable gym clothing like a t-shirt and gym shorts that you can easily move around in.

What can you expect if you get bitten by the weightlifting bug–or rather, if you want to become a weightlifter, what are we really talking about in terms of the bottom line?

A great aspect of weightlifting is that you don’t have to own your own barbell and set of weights. You do need a place to lift, however. Farley recommends finding a good USA Weightlifting-affiliated club so you have access to good equipment and people who understand the sport. Gym expenses vary depending on the location and the coach’s experience, but Farley says they can run $60-120/month for the gym membership and access to a coach and training program. Look for a USA Weightlifting certified coach–they’ve gone through rigorous training in proper coaching methods and have a lot of good tools to develop personalized training programs and goals.

Other items you’ll be investing in are proper weightlifting shoes, which have a raised heel. These will set you back $100-200 a pair. You may also have to buy knee sleeves, lifting straps and finger tape. If you compete, you’ll don a singlet, which like any athletic apparel, can also range in price. A quick Amazon search shows you can get some in the $25-40 range, but if you want more quality ones from a place focused on powerlifting, you’re likely talking $75-125 or so

In terms of time, Farley says that the average weightlifting training session is 1-3 hours. Non-elite athletes train once a day, 2-3 days a week. Elite athletes usually train 1-2 times a day, 5-6 days a week. You generally have a training cycle that’s 8-12 weeks long, and you hit your max at the end of a cycle. Farley says that the end of a cycle usually coincides with a competition, if you’re going to be a competitive weightlifter.

Let’s put that all together. Looking at year one, here’s an estimate of your investment:

Cost:

Gym: $720-1440

Shoes: $100-200

Additional gear: $50-100

Clothing: $25-125

Total: $895-1865 (or, if you like to round up, probably $1000-2000)

Time (non-elite athletes):

low-end: 104-156 hours

mid-range: 208-312 hours

high-range: 312-468 hours

One of the great things though is that getting to the Olympics is definitely not the goal of every athlete involved with the sport, and Farley says that many competitive weightlifters are hobbyists. “There is so much flexibility in the sport because athletes determine their own schedule, and set their own price depending on how serious they want to get,” says Farley.

If you’ve dreamed of being a powerful athlete, the sport of weightlifting is one that can transform pretty much anyone into realizing that dream. Check it out tomorrow–or at the very least, use the site to find a USA Weightlifting-affiliated gym close to you and see how you can try out the sport. If you take part, let us know how it went!

Athletics · Badminton · Beach Volleyball · Greco-Roman Wrestling · Gymnastics · Rio 2016 · Weightlifting

Day 12ish: The Endurance Sprint

10:16 PM EDT

Athletics

US women sweep the 110m hurdles!

We’re not going to comment on the three very common threads of athlete interviews (glory to God, stay focused, happy to place), but a sweep is cool. Being in the US, we here get the benefit of that, but we here at The Feverr would be happy if it wasn’t us too….speaking of which:

Women’s Gymnastics

We caught up on the balance beam competition, and HOORAY for Sanne Wevers for winning the gold with her massive ability to spin on the beam and her massively different (and very cool) mount and dismount. Even with an adjustment to your routine, it was executed so well. We’re really happy that the Dutch achieved this accomplishment (it’s been forever since the Dutch medalled in gymnastics).

 

9:31 PM EDT

Athletics

Let’s talk decathlon. These guys (or idiots, if you have a differing perspectives) have two 12-hour days. Here’s the schedule:

Day 1

9:30 AM – 100M

10:35 AM – Long Jump

12:15 PM – Shot Put

5:45 PM – High Jump

9:40 PM – 400M

Day 2:

9:30 AM – 110M Hurdles

10:25 AM – Discus

1:25 PM – Pole Vault

6:35 PM – Javelin

9:45 PM – 1500M

Why do you want to do this again? Is it because you’re decent in all of these events/like cross-training/don’t mind the long hours?

NBC coverage is killing me with being both interesting and lame. For the interesting bit, they talked to Eaton about training, and he talked about the differences between his attitude toward London (be ready physically) and now (be prepared for the unknown). To me the preparation for the event is interesting.

On the lame side, the prime time coverage of the long jump consisted of a tracking shot of Eaton’s head. So fascinating.

8:28 PM EDT

Athletics (Prime Time Coverage)

I’m watching prime time coverage “live” tonight–so that’s tonight’s prime time coverage, but they’ll show different things from the day.

First up is athletics — women’s hurdles (which has some stunning frustrations of running through hurdles) and men’s steeplechase.

Let’s talk about steeplechase. I love the concept of steeplechase and would love to try it sometime. But where? Where can I try it? I mean, there are five million 5Ks. What makes it so hard to add the hurdles and water trap–apart from having hurdles on hand and building a water trap? Are we in the US just forced to go straight to obstacle races? Don’t get me wrong–I do like a good obstacle course, but I really wish I could try someday.

This Olympics’ steeplechase was really cool–an American did well, which is something, since we haven’t had good steeplechasers since the 1990s (which is now a long time ago). Ours got the silver, which is pretty unbelievable. And then France protested the results, which found that Kenyan Ezekial Kemboi DQ’d, so France ended up with the bronze.

7:45 PM EDT

Men’s Whitewater C2/More Late Night Coverage

It’s nice to see the whitewater venue while it’s functioning. Don’t get me wrong–whitewater looks incredibly cool and is something I want to try someday, but this venue looks like it’s going to be impossible to maintain. I can’t imagine there’s going to be enough interest from Brazil to keep it financially viable.

Wait a sec–men’s golf had a hole in one? Really?! That’s pretty cool! Doesn’t make me happy that golf is back in the Olympics. Granted, I get it that the athletes are happy about it, but again, this is another venue that may not be used much. Rio has a couple of golf courses, but from what I understand not many people golf.

Venue maintenance is real, my friends.

Ah! Back at the C2 final, there was a tip over and penalty with the Czech pair of Jonas Kaspar and Marek Sindler! That sucks–the commentators say you don’t see this in the final, but I have always wondered what happens when if you tip over. If you’re an Olympian, you pop right back up. They still ended up in 8th place–ahead of the Americans–so you know they had a pretty impressive run except for that error.

7:32 PM EDT

Men’s Weightlifting/Late Night Coverage

I’m backtracking through coverage (bonus of watching on DVR is not needing to watch all of the preliminaries) and am currently on Friday. I think. I’m just hitting what I think might be easy to knock off quickly–like random volleyball matches.

Anyway, I stumbled on more men’s weightlifting and got this gem of an analogy from the color commentator: A washing machine weighs about 250lbs, and this guy had the equivalent of a washing machine on each side of the bar. Heavy!

Is it me, or do a lot of athletes look like they’re tolerating Ryan Seacrest? He’s great at what he does, but man, there’s something maybe a little too slick, too eager there.

2:23 PM EDT

Men’s Gymnastics

I’ve discovered some late-night coverage. So far, Ryan Seacrest has not appeared too often on my TV screen, which is nice. Sometimes he seems like he tries too hard.

But anyway, we’re back to event finals in men’s gymnastics, and this is the still rings. Since it’s gymnastics, it means gymnastics commentary, and this gem popped out of Not-Tim-Daggett’s mouth (apologies for forgetting who is on the mic besides Tim and Nastia. Is it Al Trautwig?):

Boy, if you tattoo the [Olympic] rings on your back, you really have to have confidence, and why not?

I’ve honestly wondered about the ratio of Olympic-tattooed athletes to non-tattooed athletes. There are a ton of ring tattoos. And why not?

Still rings gold goes to Eleftherios Petrounias from Greece (those rings did. not. move.). Hometown hero Arthur Zanetti gets the silver (with an amazing twisting maneuver). Russia’s Denis Ablyazin gets the bronze.

2:05 PM EDT

Badminton

I’m watching women’s pairs — Denmark vs. China semifinal, and this match was in Denmark’s bag, but they’ve had a few unforced errors, so it’s exciting.

Of note: The officials here are also in polos and khakis. I’m still curious about officiating uniforms across sports and how formal they get. I’m sure you could look at athletes’ uniforms in a similar way.

Denmark pulled it out for the win, and now they’re going for the gold. I want to set up the badminton net in the backyard now.

1:00 PM EDT

Greco-Roman Wrestling – Men’s 66kg

We’re picking up the action in the gold medal match between Štefanek of Serbia and  Arutyunyan of Armenia, who’s got a cut eye, which stopped play. Part of the fix involves wrapping a long bandage around his head–I’m tuning in to see if it stays on. And for the sport too. I don’t see a ton of Greco-Roman, so it’s fun to get a chance to watch a little of it (and I mean “a little,” compared to pretty much every basketball game being shown somewhere).

I’m gonna take a moment and point out that the referee is wearing a polo, khaki cargo pants and tennis. A funky cool Rio polo, sure, but so many other officials have full on suits or shirts and ties at the big show that it looks a little casual, even though the guy does look neater with it tucked in. I wonder why the wrestling referee uniform is like this.

OK. There’s a challenge in the match with about 10 seconds to go. How does the Serbian coach call the challenge? He throws a stuffed Vinicius onto the mat. Is this for real? I thought for a second it was audience interference. Challenge lost. Let’s move on for the last few seconds.

Again, what? The match ends in a 1-1 tie, so who wins? The person who scored the last point. In this case, it’s the Serb, who got a point on a passivity call. He’s now literally waggling his tongue and doing a back flip on the mat. The Armenian is so frustrated that when the ref tries to bring him back to the center to give the official announcement, he shrugs him off, rips off his bloody head bandage and throws it down (ahem, biohazard), earning a yellow card [note: how does the yellow card post-match affect him in future matches?].

It’s a really puzzling–and ultimately ungratifying–way to end a gold medal match.

Note to haters: The US is shut out of the medal matches in Greco-Roman. Guess what? NBC is still showing them. I don’t know how I’m managing about a half-hour of coverage without seeing the US compete.

12:30ish PM EDT

Weightlifting – Men’s +105kg

Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia sets the world record in men’s +105kg snatch at 216kg. Three lifters later, reigning gold medalist Behdad Salimikordasiabi of Iran beats it. And this is early in the competition. Then in the clean & jerk, Brazilian Fernando Saraiva Reis comes back with Attempt 2 at 245kg and almost gets it. THIS IS INSANE! He’s got one more attempt.

Salimikordasiabi comes back at gets 245kg at the Clean & Jerk in his second attempt–and he just barely got it….oh, wait, the jury turned down his lift, which the commentators are fine with because they said it looked sloppy. It did–the elbows didn’t really lock out, though perhaps the original panel of referees thought they eventually did–and for long enough.

With that miss, he’s out of the standings, but last attempt…WHOA! HE COULDN’T EVEN CLEAN IT!!! WORLD RECORD IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE EVENT TO NOTHING!

The Georgian is back and makes short work of 247kg. If you didn’t notice his red face, it looked almost like no big deal….which was something, considering that the Brazilian couldn’t clean the same weight.

Now we introduce some of the other players in the competition, including Estonian Mart Seim, who’s trying to lift 250kg–250kg–and if he’s successful, that won’t be good enough for top 3.

And we’re at the point where the commentators are trying to explain just how much this weight is. 250kg = six average-sized kindergarteners (46 lbs) on each side of the bar. Where did that analogy come from? Apparently, I myself can bench press about 1.5 kindergarteners. New average unit of measure, apparently.

No go for Seim. But! We’re learning that the play-by-play guy here must be palling it up with Tim Daggett, with this gem:

I’m telling you, today on the clean & jerks, gravity’s winning.

Oh, OK. Let’s be fair and pull out more of the quote:

I mean, it looks heavy out there.

Oh, all right. Here’s the rest of it:

The weight is moving slow, and these guys are having a hard time locking this weight all the way out.

Dude, kindergarteners can be squirrely sometimes.

Competition goes on. Salimikordasiabi is upset and frustrated (because he thought he had a clean lift, which got taken away by the jury) and is heatedly talking with his coach in the corridor between backstage and the competition platform. And Armenian Ruben Aleksanyan is coming out for his next attempt. That corridor ain’t big enough for too many heavyweight lifters. No go on this attempt, but he’s got one more try.

The interesting thing in this competition is that you may have to go right after yourself–and this happens if you’re not going to go up in weight (apparently they don’t want to keep changing the weight all the time–which I’m sure could be easily messed up–so the rotation order of athletes revolves around the amount of weight on the bar. You’ve got two minutes between lifts if you’re in this position.

Sadly, Aleksanyan missed his last attempt and will wind up in fourth.

Final lift: The Georgian has already won gold, but he’s got one more chance to really blow people away with a potential Olympic and World Record at 258kg (12.9 kindergarteners). Clean was simple! Managed to get the jerk!! WOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!! CONGRATS TO TALAKHADZE AND GEORGIA!

(and as it’s lunchtime, I now have a hankering for khachapuri and khinkali (cheese bread and dumplings). I will make due with salad.

11:32 AM – EDT

Beach Volleyball

Watching a game in fast-forward, I’m not going to have any big insight on Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross’ loss in the semi-finals (in fact, I’m probably going to read a little news coverage on it now). I’m just relieved that my recording ended just after the final point of the game. The loss is sad for the US, for sure, but man, it does have to be great to win a huge match in your home country in a sport that your fellow citizens love. Good luck to Ágatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas (a pair for which Yahoo! Sports couldn’t even manage to find their full names)–that gold medal match against Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in that arena is going to be amazing to watch.

10:35 AM – EDT

Gymnastics

“The Endurance Sprint” is an apt title not just for this blog entry, but also for some of the announcing. A lot of these announcers have to work long days for most of the Games, and on week 2, you can start to tell that they’re tired because they’ll start saying some pretty awkward lines (and let’s not get into the sexist comments that have sparked so much Internet outrage), like this one out of Tim Daggett, NBC color commentator, talking about Ukrainian gymnast Oleg Vernyayev on the parallel bars:

His routine goes on for days!

What?!?

It was a gold-winning performance and truly stunning, but it did end at some point, most likely within the allotted time.

Over to the women’s side, floor final. Do you think Under Armour’s worked really hard to develop performance sparkles for the American leotards?

NBC’s spending a fair amount of time cutting over to the other three American gymnasts who didn’t make this event final, and I’ve gotta say that Laurie Hernandez is winning the gold for being a super-excited and supportive teammate. Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian don’t come across as excited on camera–but I tell ya, I’d probably be sitting there a little blank-faced as well……oh, the joys of being a quiet person when you’re next to an exuberant person.

Legit question for you gymnasts out there: Do you ever kick yourself in the face? Wang Yan of China did a front kick in her floor routine that had so much velocity I was surprised she didn’t bash herself in the face. Is that a thing? Let me know, gymnasts.

Side note: In 2012, China won 8 women’s gymnastics medals, 4 of them gold. This Olympics, they won 2 bronze. That’s it. I’ve gotta wonder what they’re going to do to rebuild their program.

10:12 AM – EDT

Today’s workday doesn’t rely on immediate deadlines and meetings, which means I can attempt to whittle away at the 98% full mark on the DVR (although today I’m taping approximately 1000 hours of coverage, so I may never catch up). I’ve been spoiled out the wazoo.

What have I seen this morning? Jamaica’s first gold medal in the 110m men’s hurdles–and the US shut out of the medals for the first time in Olympic history….in the ones they’ve competed. Which may make NBC feel a little dumb for having a camera feed from Devon Allen’s college where his football teammates were cheering on the American hopeful. But when you watch the 25 replays, you see that Allen knocked down most of the hurdles in the final race (he had similar problems in the semifinals), which makes it a little difficult to be able to run the race as quickly as you need to medal. I get that you want to clear the hurdle as low as possible, but at this level, don’t you innately know how high the hurdles are? Do their fancy design throw you off?

Before we move onto men’s gymnastics, massive kudos to Jenny Simpson for winning a bronze in the 1500m, US women’s first medal in that event. It’s so exciting when someone kicks in and brings the performance of a lifetime–and when the cameras pan to the stands and show her family realizing she got onto the podium. Way to go, Jenny!