Saturday, 11 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics - Weightlifting

6th August 2012

Men’s 105kg Division

I had initially purchased a ticket for an afternoon session of the weightlifting, before realising it was only during the evening sessions that the serious contenders (those in Group A) in each weight class would be competing;  the afternoons being reserved for the lower ranked lifters (Group B). 

The sessions took place in the Excel venue, with each arena having an adjacent Spectator Zone, where food outlets etc. could be found.  And it was whilst sitting in this area, waiting for the arena doors to be opened that I was approached by a wild-haired middle-aged woman who, without any introduction or preamble, immediately began telling me how she did not hold out much hope for the evening’s entertainment, as she had already attended the afternoon session, and found the business all most confusing.

I politely and patiently explained how the lifters were divided into groups A&B, and that the real contenders would be on show this evening, and also how each competitor lifted using two contrasting techniques, with the weights successfully lifted added together to ascertain the winner.

She pondered this for a moment, before admitting her other problem was that she found it difficult to follow proceedings, as she was continually having to deal with emails from work.  My response of “Just switch off the technology”, was met with a shocked stare, she explaining she could not afford to get the reputation as someone who wilfully ignored emails from work, even on her days off.  I just shrugged, but was amused later on during the action to spot her a few rows away head down, furiously thumbing the keys on her blackberry.

Upon entering the arena proper, I have to say I was slightly taken aback at the number of empty seats – not a huge number, but certainly rather more than I would have expected, given the London2012 website had been for some weeks proclaiming tickets for this session were “Currently Unavailable”.  I had heard tales of members of the Forces being given free tickets to watch certain sessions and, sure enough, into the row in front of me squeezed a particularly impressive specimen of such – a marine commando according to his badge, with muscles on his muscles.  He spread out across the seats directly in front of me, pretty much taking up four of them, such was his physique.  He watched proceedings for about half-an-hour before ambling off looking unimpressed.  “I could lift them weights, with one arm tied behind me back” he appeared to be thinking.  And I believe he probably could.

Empty seats at the Excel Arena being filled by Mr Muscle the Squaddie

The athletes line-up before the start of competition.

The athletes line-up before the start of competition.

The Excel Arena.

Perusing the countries represented at the event, I noted that they were all, almost without exception from either Eastern Europe or the Middle East, and found myself pondering the politically incorrect argument of nature versus nurture.  Are folks from this area of the world genetically predisposed to be able to life ‘eavy fings, or is it that the sport is given high priority in such countries?  Who knows?  It is a decidedly muddy ideological puddle to go paddling in, as Alan Wells discovered recently on BBC TV.

I scanned the names for one to lend my support to, and being an immature little boy at heart, plumped for a chap with the wonderfully eccentric name of Bonk – to whit, one Bartolomiej Bonk from Poland.  And my man did me proud during the first discipline (the Snatch, where the lifter hoiks the bar above his head in one swift movement), by finishing top of the pile with a lift of 190kg.

There was a brief interval between the two disciplines, and it was during this break the announcer saw fit to inform us that a small amount of blood had been found on the floor of the lifting area, which was just being wiped up.  Now, I could not recall any lifter dropping the weights onto toes or head on anywhere really, so assumed the blood must have dribbled out of some orifice or other, consequent to the massive strain these lifters’ bodies must undergo.  I had hoped it was little more than a nosebleed, but was aware these big lads can occasionally suffer a rectal prolapse when lifting, so did not envy the wee guy doing the mopping up.

My friend Bonk looked slightly less comfortable with the Clean & Jerk discipline, but nevertheless was sitting in first place with a combined total of 410kg by the time he had completed all his allocated attempts.  And for a brief spell it looked as if this total may be enough to take gold, before both Iran’s Navab Nassirshallal and then Ukraine’s Oleksiy Torokhtiy succeeding in Clean & Jerking the mind-boggling weight of 227kg; the bar bending alarmingly during these lifts.  This resulted in the Ukranian taking gold by virtue of having lifted one kg more during the earlier discipline, with Nassirshallal left perhaps to rue a slightly conservative Snatch strategy.

Poland's Bartolomiej Bonk with a successful attempt during the Snatch discipline.

The three medal winners

During the Ukrainian National Anthem.

Gold medal winner Oleksiy Torokhtiy

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