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Memorables

Encouragement for victims of the disaster

Moment of the Year by Masashi Inoue Japanese ace Hiromi Miyake is determined to deliver a strong performance at the London Olympics this summer to provide encouragement to those still feeling the effects of one of Japan's worst-ever natural disasters. The March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis last year claimed the lives of over 15,000 people and left more than 3,300 missing. The 53kg bodyweight category weightlifter Miyake is thankful that she survived the quake and tsunami that ravaged Japan's northeastern coastline, inflicting particularly heavy damage on the Miyagi Prefecture her famous father hails from. ''I am grateful that I am alive and able to lift barbells,'' said Miyake, whose father Yoshiyuki won the bronze medal in the featherweight class at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Although Yoshiyuki's inland hometown was spared by the tsunami, the quake shook tiles off his house and forced him to cover the roof with makeshift vinyl sheets, while the surrounding roads were left full of bumps and cracks. ''I was so shocked I was lost for words,'' said Hiromi, who witnessed the damage first hand. In May last year, Hiromi and her father visited Shibata Norin High School. The school was being used by students from Miyagi Nogyo High School as their own school building in the coastal area of the prefecture had been damaged by the tsunami. Before visiting the school, Hiromi and Yoshiyuki checked out the size of the feet of over 200 of the Miyagi Nogyo High School students and provided them with sport shoes that fitted, delivering them along with towels and 350 T-shirts. A third-year Miyagi Nogyo High School student, men's 77kg category lifter Ryuta Hikichi, had his home in Natori City swept away by the tsunami and only managed to save himself by clinging onto a plastic greenhouse that he happened to see. In August he competed at the Inter-High School Championships wearing the uniform he had found a week after the disaster, lifting a personal record. Hiromi says she had had numerous training camps at Shibata Norin High School. The 26-year-old finished ninth at 48kg on her Olympic debut in Athens in 2004 and had an even better result in finishing sixth at the Beijing Games four years ago. Looking ahead to this summer's London Games, Hiromi, sixth in the 53kg category at last year's World Championships, said, ''What I have to do at the moment is train. I want to post a good result in London and hopefully that will provide encouragement for victims of the disaster." Masashi Inoue Kyodo

Why did Ilya Ilyn cry in Paris?

Moment of the Year by Sultan Shokbytov A child can deceive when he cries, but he cannot succeed in deceiving when he laughs. An adult can deceive, when he laughs, but can also deceive when he cries. This is the law of nature. But in the modern world all moves to that adult start to deceive even when they cry. Certainly, this is art, not all the adults, especially men can cry, a special talent is needed for that. The victory of our fellow countryman, Ilya Ilyin at the 2011 IWF World Championships Paris, France, supported these thoughts. Standing on the platform with a gold medal on his chest, cried, listening to the hymn of Kazakhstan. Ilya's life seemed to go right in every respect after the Olympic Games of 2008 in Beijing. However, it is impossible to say this about the last years. It appears, everything, even champions are trapped by various unexpected situations. Your talent can sometimes become not an advantage but a disadvantage. There are a lot of untalented people but there are not many talented ones. And these untalented people finally start to envy the talented ones and become their "enemies". These "enemies" by various manipulations (by spreading gossips in the mass-media) have achieved that Ilya started to have disagreements with the coaches of the national team of Kazakhstan and with the Sport Committee of the Ministry of Sports. But it is clear that Ilya was born under a lucky star because Nursultan Nazarbaev himself, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan interfered saying to sports officials: «Why all of us were proud and praised Ilya during his victory in Beijing and when he has a problem do you turn away from him? » Probably, all these moments have come back to Ilya again while he was standing on the platform with the gold medal on his chest listening to the hymn of Kazakhstan, let his feelings and cried, without being embarrassed. These were real tears because in front of the TV cameras it is impossible to deceive anybody, and this is why many Kazakhs cried together with him. Certainly, our Ilya is a real man! Before the World Championships he made a promise in broken Kazakh language to win the World Championships in any case, and he won! Only real men keep their word. Ilya is a real patriot. Any proofs? When he had difficulties with the coaches and officials, Belarus experts came to him promising him super conditions, but Ilya refused it without hesitating even for a moment. While "ill-wishers" spread rumors about him, while at the same time he constructed sport fields for children in his native city Kyzylorda at his own cost. At the World Championships in Paris, on his outfit he had a big logo of the 20th Anniversary of the Independence of Kazakhstan which was the most important event of 2011 for Kazakh people. Though Ilya is not Kazakh by nationality, lives in the heart of each Kazakh, and he is a vivid example of how it is necessary to love your country and the people. Dear Ilya! All Kazakhs wish you a lot of success in London!!! Sultan Shokbytov Secretary General of the Kazakhstan Association of Sports

Falling from heaven down to earth

Moment of the Year by Kornel Jancso Each competition – World Championships especially – is full of noteworthy moments; the only question is which one will be burned in your memory forever. The Paris 2011 World Championships Paris, France, was no exception: dramatic fights for the medals abounded and the intensity of duels, the bitter fights, not mentioning the World Records, captured the spectators again and again. As far as I am concerned, I was most captivated by the events in the Women’s 63kg. More than one snapshot of this category has stuck in my memory’s subjective filter; developments that are not too frequent even at such peak events. It started with one of the hot favourites, Maneza from Kazakhstan, the defending champion finishing only third in snatch with 109kg, following Chinese Ouyang and Russian Tsarukaeva. The latter, by the way, performed a special feat cancelling the oldest (6 years old) Women’s World Record with her successful 117kg. Being the other main contender for the gold, Tsarukaeva thus obtained a considerable advantage not only psychologically but also measurable in kilos. However, that was not to be the end of the competition! The Russian, performing six on six and reaching 138kg in clean and jerk, totaled an impressive 255kg and there was only one woman left in the race. Maneza, holder of the clean and jerk world record with 143kg, called for 147kg for her last attempt. If successful, the Kazakh captures the victory for both the jerk and the total. Excitement brimming over, Maneza cleans and jerks the weight, throws herself in the arms of her coach, the Kazakh camp jubilant… but the magic lasts only for seconds. The referees fail the attempt on account of press-out. Falling from heaven down to earth, the disappointment obviously enormous, but when it comes to the victory ceremony it’s the “old” Maneza again. She is by no means crushed by the failure, by bad luck; she is smiling in spite of all the disappointment. She had a chance to do the bravura of becoming world champion for the third time in a row after 2009 and 2010, had she completed a good lift on 147kg. Alas, she failed. But she is behaving as a real sport, braving the blow. If considering only this feature of Maneza’s character (while she has many others) I am sure that have several jubilant moments are still waiting for her when she will feel being not in hell but in heaven, and not only for a transitional period but for a prolonged time, thanks to her exceptional faculties in this sport and as a result of unchallengeable lifts. Kornel Jancso Editor-in-Chief

Godelli’s unique medal collection

Moment of the Year by EBSNIK DIZDARI Look at this boy! In fact, he is a World Champion. Daniel Godelli, was born in 1992 in Peqin, a small town in Central Albania with only 9.000 inhabitants. I think it is not easy to find such a small town where a World Champion has been grown up. He is only 19 years old, but already became World Champion in 2011, at the Junior World Championships held in Penang, Malaysia. His coach is Ali Lundraxhiu. Meanwhile, still in 2011, a film dedicated to him, (realized by journalist Ahmet Shqarri and directed by Ylli Pepo) won an Award at the World Sports Cinema Festival held in Milan. He won the gold medal in Penang just right after the film received the Award. Until now Albania won four gold medals ever at World Championships (among all sports) and all of them were won in weightlifting sport: Ymer Pampuri in 1972 at the WWC, Erkand Qerimaj in 2006 and 2007 and Daniel Godelli in 2011 at the JWC. With three silver medals won in 2010 and two silver and a gold medal won in 2011, Godelli is the only Albanian athlete of all time who gained six medals at World Championships. In Penang, the Albanian team obtained the fifth place in the team classification among 29 countries, following Iran, Russia, China and Ecuador. For a country with only three million inhabitants it was a unique case. The Albanian government already understood that weightlifting was very important for the young people in the country and also for the Albanian sport in general. The government gives continuous financial support to the athletes, as well as providing the champions with prizes what was unimaginable some years ago. It is important to know, that even today; Albania is a country full of endless financial problems. At the moment Albania has only two medal winners at World Championships: Ymer Pampuri was World Champion in 1972 and Ilir Suli, silver medallist. At the 2011 IWF World Championships Paris, Albania won the first medal among women, Romela Begaj in category 58 kg won bronze medal in snatch (100 kg). The enthusiastic President of the Albanian Weightlifting Federation and Member of the Executive Board of the IWF, Mr. Esat Ademi is the first Albanian sports official who has ever obtained such an important international position. (Until now, Albania has gained 19 medals at World Championships. Moreover the Albanian athletes gained 36 medals at European Senior Championships, 41 medals at European Junior Championships and 36 medals at European Youth Championships. 75 percent of these medals were won in the last 7-8 years.) Now the main goal for the country is to get an Olympic medal. It is an interesting coincidence that in 2012 it is the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympic Games where Ymer Pampuri broke the Olympic record (press) and became World Champion. It is the 20th anniversary of Pirro Dimas' (Pyrros Dimas) first Olympic Gold medal, already under the Greek flag, but he is originally from the Albanian city Himara and then grew up in Tirana. A few famous athletes became World Champions or/and Olympic medal winners under the flag of Greece, but were born and practicing weightlifting for a while in Albania, such as: Pirro Dimas (Pyrros Dimas), Luan Shabani (Leonidas Sabanis), Jorgo Xhelili (Yorgos Tzelilis), Leonidha Goga (Leonidas Kokas), Viktor Mitro (Viktor Mitrou). So, can we say that Albania has a weightlifting school? Maybe. What we can confirm without doubt is that the Albanian champions of nowadays intend to create a glory of their country. We wish that 2012 bring them the big explosion… EBSNIK DIZDARI, Shqiptar Editor-in-Chief

The greatest…loss

Moment of the Year by Nickolai Dolgopolov Vasily Alexeev was an extraordinary figure – in all senses of the word. I remember flying with him back from Montreal in 1976. Our Russian charter flight was overcrowded with Olympic winners of all sorts. I remember him flirting with our star women divers and blond fencers. So much bottles of the traditional national drink were consumed but nobody looked drunk. It was the generation of winners who managed to keep the winning spirit in spite of all. But Vasily the Great was such a mighty picturesque figure that all outstanding Soviet champions respected him as the undoubtedly strongest man in the world and showed their respect making a kind of a bow or calling him like we are calling our parents – not just Vasiliy but Vasily Ivanovich. And the giant who was sitting in the centre of the first row of the economy class accepted those signs of total admiration without any surprise. He shook hands and what was ridiculous for me signed the autographs to those who seemed to be not less famous and glorious. Even the clan of the Soviet sport celebrities praised Vasily Ivanovich and recognized him as the total winner. And the winner he was. Two other weightlifters, also Olympic champions, who were sitting near him, looked like the kids from the kindergarten. They helped Vasily with the drinks and obeyed his orders. I was in the parade red costume of the Soviet team and also asked him to write a word or two in my notebook. He looked at me with an interest: “Why I don’t know you? I know everybody in the team”, - he asked me. I was a bit confused and explained that I’m a sport reporter from “Komsomolskaya Pravda” and in Montreal I was writing my daily reports and at the same time doing the translation for swimmers, water polo and divers. He looked at me angrily: “One should choose one thing in life and do it properly, - he said with a gasp. – And besides if you are a journalist or an interpreter you shouldn’t wear the outfits of the national team”. I tried to escape taking away my notebook. He stopped me: “Where is your note book? Who told you I wouldn’t give you my autograph?” And he left a line in my notebook lost naturally during all my future travels: “To a hard worker from V. Alexeev”. He was always in the focus of public attention. At the different championships there was a line of reporters eager to speak with him and he used to answer with the sudden humor unexpected from such a guy who was sometimes looked gloomy. There was a joke of him he used to repeat and was evidently fond of: 'I won two Olympiads. The first in Munich in 1972, the second in Montreal in 1976, the third is my wife whose name is Olympiada who is always with me and so I’m the eventual winner.' People in Russia are confident that “large persons are kind”. I wouldn’t call him kind. Years after I came to training camp in Moscow suburbs at which the coach of the still Soviet team Vasily Ivanovich Alexeev was the total master and boss. Everything was in an absolute order. The big hall where the athletes of all weights were training was clean. The celebrities obeyed him not like the slaves on the plantations, no, it wasn’t like that. But the obedience was strict, no objections whatsoever. Still it wasn’t the total dictatorship. Vasiliy Ivanovich spoke politely with the lifters and their coaches. He was especially polite with guys of light weights. In the canteen the “ordung” was total and the meals were delicious. I asked him about his coaching methods and he explained that everything in the world including all techniques and methods of practice were known for each respectful country, even his own theory of physical preparation. And respect towards the people that is weight lifters – is the factor that matters so much it was difficult to imagine. In his mind the weight lifters job was the hardest in all world of sport and one of the main tasks of the coach was to provide, as he put it “the best conditions possible” for his disciples. There are – and were – rumors, that Alexeev was rude. I didn’t notice that. May be with his rivals? He used to say that they “gulped rubbish” (meaning something prohibited) to defeat him but never succeeded. And joked again: 'If they had only known what borsch was being prepared for me by Olimpiada, they would have stopped consuming all that sh..' He was stubborn and I would say proud of himself. Once I was told a story, not by Vasily Ivanovich – by others – that in 1976 the victorious team of Soviet weightlifters was invited in the USA to meet President Carter. The president was late and after some time of useless waiting it was naturally Alexeev, not the coach or the team leader, who stood up and with the words of slightly changed Russian proverb led the way to the exit: seven are not waiting for the one even if this one is the president. Not a single person remained sited, everybody followed the walkout. He was far from his best in his last year, but he was longing to survive so much! Alexeev the Great was sent to Germany. But the job he was doing all his life was really exhausting. He didn’t live up to his 70 years. Farewell, the Greatest! Nickolai Dolgopolov President of the Federation of Sport Journalists of Russia, Vice President of AIPS Send your Most Memorable Moment of 2011 to Dezso Dobor, IWF Media Officer (dezso.dobor@iwfnet.net) or the IWF Secretariat in order to be

World Championships returns to USA

Moment of the Year by Janis Schmees The moment had finally arrived and the United States Team was summoned into the meeting room in Paris, France where the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Dr. Tamas Ajan and the Executive Board were awaiting to see the final presentation of the day. A million thoughts were racing through our minds and surely everyone’s heart was beating as rapidly as mine, as we realized that the many months of bid preparation and hours of hard work leading up to this second were about to unfold. We had one shot at this... one opportunity to share why Houston, Texas in the United States of America, would be the right choice to host the 2015 World Championships. If we couldn’t clearly outline our package or articulate the vision and reasons why our destination would be the right choice at this time, then it would be years of waiting for another opportunity. The United States had bid twice before and the chance to hold this prestigious competition had eluded us each time. In fact, the World Championships had not been hosted in our country since 1978. A haunting fact that we all knew, but hardly focused on due to our belief that tenacity is part of competing, and quite frankly, part of life. The United States Olympic Committee, USA Weightlifting, and Harris County – Houston Sports Authority executives had meticulously rehearsed the presentation together several times, including the night before, to ensure that the technology was going to cooperate and that each piece of important bid information was going to be properly conveyed. From my viewpoint, our team of presenters emerged as professional, passionate, and knowledgeable people about the sport of weightlifting, but as later discovered, that’s how each team appeared. Everyone had put as much time and effort into the process as we had, and each team had raised an unprecedented amount of funding to support the sport of weightlifting. When our allotted time was up and the presentation over, the inevitable vote by the IWF Executive Board needed to take place. We stepped out of the room. Then, what seemed to be an eternity, but was truly only minutes, each country was asked to step back into the meeting chamber to be present during the announced decision. With humbleness and great excitement, we held our breath while waiting for the outcome. That’s when, for me, the most memorable moment of the year took place and something very magical happened… the United States, on its third attempt, was awarded the opportunity to host the grand, 2015 World Championships in Houston, Texas! by Janis Schmees, Executive Director of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Send your Most Memorable Moment of 2011 to Dezso Dobor, IWF Media Officer (dezso.dobor@iwfnet.net) or the IWF Secretariat in order to be