During Thanksgiving week this past November, I traveled out to Houston for this year's World Weightlifting Championships. It hasn't been in the United States since the eighties and I couldn't pass up on the chance to go. While I could only be there for three days, it was plenty of time time to take in everything.
This post is more of an interlude before the next one which also relates to the championships. That one will be an interview I had the opportunity of conducting while I was in Houston, but more on that next time.
Here I'm writing about my experience on the trip and that essentially amounts to a bunch of random thoughts. It ends with a compilation of the Instagram posts I did when I came back from Houston. What I won't be doing here is providing an analysis of the competition. That kind of commentary can be found on blogs, podcasts, and eventually Sportivny Press.
There were sessions at all different times of the day, but every session had great lifters to watch. Not only that, but there was always a crowd. For instance, one night on my way to the last session, a coach and his wife went to watch even though athletes from their country weren't in the session. In the competition hall you saw fans, athletes, and coaches watching all the lifters on the platform.
I sat on the far side of the hall. On my first day, I ended up with Enver Turkeleri sitting in front of me, an Azerbaijan coach next to me, Chinese men's head coach Chen Wenbin across the aisle, and the entire Russian and Ukraine team sitting in the rows behind me. It made for interesting observations during the men's 77kg A session. For example, I noticed many of the coaches paid more attention to the scoreboard than the actual lifts happening on the platform. Or when Su Ying missed a jerk, Chen Wenbin immediately demonstrated to the athlete with him the correct movement using only his hands. It was one quick motion and few words.
That moment didn't click in my mind until later that night. It was when Papayats had introduced me to weightlifting coach and IWF education and development commission member Aveenash Pandoo. He gave a lecture earlier that day and said that demonstrating corrections is visually processed faster by the cerebellum rather than explaining it to a person.
Let me say in all the time I've been reading, practicing, and been involved with lifting, that has been the first time I had ever heard that. Saying my mind was blown would be an understatement.
All in all, the atmosphere and venue were great. It also helps immensely if you speak a second language to converse with athletes and coaches. Seeing as how most didn't speak English, it limits the amount of people you can connect with. However if you were able to chat someone up, they were often very friendly.
Random Thoughts and Observations
- While the men's sessions were interesting, I thought the women were more enjoyable to watch. The men had more missed attempts
- Every time a Russian lifter came out for their attempt, the entire Russian team began to clap. Unfortunately, they were always out of sync
- The Iranian fans win gold for enthusiasm
- Papayats and I were on the elevator with a Korean coach and his athlete and this very same situation happened:
When Papayats greeted him, I pretty much stood there clueless
- I missed the Indian weightlifters compete! I arrived after they had all competed, but I did get to chat with their 77kg weightlifter Sathish Sivalingam and team physiotherapist
- I also ran into the Two Doctors and Gregor on an elevator ride and managed to get a good laugh out of them. Can't say the same thing for the elevator ride with Zygmunt, but that's because everyone on the elevator stood there quietly when he walked in
If you don't follow me on Instagram, I did quick on-the-spot interviews of athletes and coaches in Houston. It was anyone who would agree to four simple questions: which do they like more snatch or clean & jerk, favorite thing about weightlifting, least favorite thing about weightlifting, and advice they would give themselves.
It provided a bit more substance than just taking pictures, but I didn't plan any of these individuals. The people chosen were based on if I ran into them and they weren't busy. Some people I didn't want to rudely interrupt while others were usually heading somewhere and I didn't want to delay them.
Click on the the person's name to be taken to their full interview. Enjoy!