A day like today–which featured two outstanding men’s sessions–reminds you just why it is you flew halfway around the world to subsist on bad food and minimal sleep for a week or more. Watching the men’s 94 and 105 sessions makes the horror of EuroDisney worth it, even as the weekend has brought with it hordes of screaming, filthy children. The breakfast buffet was filled with them the other morning, dropping food all over the floor, running around, screaming like drug-addled maniacs. This is where they should bring high schoolers to prevent teen pregnancy; an hour sitting in the breakfast buffet of EuroDisney is enough to make anyone stick with self-love and dry-humping well into their forties.
After a quick trip to Paris in the morning and early afternoon we made our way back to the venue, in the hopes of making the start of the 94 A session. But our trek back was nearly cut short when Mike Graber had a problem with a turnstile in the Paris metro. He was apparently trying to get through using a ticket that was long expired, and the turnstile was therefore refusing to budge, as could be expected. But Graber–always resourceful–had other plans, and decided he would simply leap over the turnstile bars, which came up to his chest.
At this point I sensed impending disaster, and so I tried shouting at him to stop.
Graber, ignoring my suggestion, went forth boldly and confidently. And to his great credit, he did manage to catapult over the bars. Unfortunately he didn’t take into account the fact that the Paris metro turnstiles also feature a metal and plastic gate after the turnstile bars, to prevent exactly the sort of thing he was trying to do. He landed right in between the bars and the gate, and though he’s a lean 56-kilo lifter, the space was simply too small to allow him to pass through.
After a few seconds of squirming around, wedged halfway through the metro turnstile and gate, he realized he had a problem.
“I’m stuck!” he yelled.
Christ, I thought. How in shit’s sake am I going to explain this awful scene to the Parisian police?
“Try wiggling out!” I said.
He looked around at his situation and begin moving erratically, first trying to go forward, then trying simply to get back out. Luckily after shimmying himself up he managed to break free, although he was still on the wrong side of the turnstile. By this point he realized that the metro system was a formidable opponent, and so with the help of some Good Samaritan he managed to get himself a proper ticket, and we made it back to the venue in time.
And thank goodness for that, since after the fiasco of not getting into last night’s 85 session, I was ready to see some strong lifting. The 94 session was extraordinary, and featured outstanding lifting by a number of athletes. Ilya Ilyin, back on the scene after a bit of a hiatus, was in fantastic form; the guy is fast, and if you turn away for even a second you’re going to miss him lift, which is exactly what happened to me on his first snatch. I turned my head for a second to check the scoreboard quickly and by the time I turned back he was already standing with the weight overhead.
But as good as Ilyin is he’s not the only game in this town, and the session featured excellent lifting by Ukraine’s Artem Ivanov as well, who managed a second place finish right behind Ilyin. Third place went to Iran’s junior lifter Saeid Mohammadpourkarkaragh, who earlier won the last-name-length competition. The only downside of the session was when Ilyin’s third snatch attempt at 184 was turned down by the judges, two to one. From where I was sitting the lift looked absolutely fine, and judging by the legitimate rage coming from the shouts and jeers of the crowd I’m guessing most other people thought similarly. As calls like this one keep indicating, the awful pressout rule–presumably what caused the red lights, although even in the replay I didn’t see a pressout–needs to be done away with.
The 94s alone would have made for a great competition day, but then the 105s proved to be just as exciting. From a lifting standpoint this might be the best session, as the percentage of made lifts seemed extraordinary high; not a single lifter missed his opening snatch, and the top two finishers–Khadzhimurat Akkaev and Dmitry Klokov–both went six for six, as did the fourth place finisher, Gia Machavariani.
And, of course, any day that includes a screaming, enraged Klokov is a good day in my book. He’s the only lifter you can hear screaming in the back room, even over the shouts of whoever is actually on the platform at the moment. After a somewhat shaky opener in the snatch his lifting improved with each attempt, and his 232 clean and jerk gave the impression that he had still more to go. If only there were fourth attempts still…