69 A session

After milling around the training hall for a few hours, far longer than i anticipated, I realized it was almost time for the 69 mens A session, which would likely have some big weights being thrown around. I started moving toward the door when I noticed a small planet in orbit through the training hall.

Rezazadeh, looking rather svelt

He was kind enough to stop for a picture with me, although the girl who took it had apparently never used a digital camera before, so I spent an increasingly uncomfortable 20 or so seconds holding the side of beef that Rezazadeh calls a hand. It was massive and radiated heat, like holding onto roast you’ve just pulled from the oven. When I saw David Rigert just a few seconds later and posed with him, I wisely decided to avoid shaking his hand.

Minutes later, however, emotion got the best of me when I saw a tiny man with a giant head walking quickly toward the venue. Holy shit, I though, that’s Halil Mutlu. I surged forward and ran to him like a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert, eyes wild and thrusting my hand forward. It is to Mutlu’s credit that his massive smile hardly faltered as I charged toward him like a gorilla on cocaine and vigorously pumped his fist while telling him how great I thought he was, not remembering or caring that he probably couldn’t understand a word I said.

Whatever. I’m sure he’s used to it. And if not he will be by the time this week is over, unless he figures out how to get security to stop me.

The 69 A session was outstanding, with a number of surprises. Dabaya, from whom I expected a solid performance, totally shit the bed, going 6 for 6 (a “TNJ” performance) with weights well below his personal bests. Things seemed amiss from his very first attempt in the snatch; I could have missed 143 with better conviction.

Dabaya about to do a high pull

But the top lifters, a Turk, a Chinaman, and a Romanian, did not disappoint. The Romanian kid, Ninel Miculescu, might have served as the model for the screaming gorilla tattooed on the 85 Frenchman’s back. Maybe he just gets excited easily, but my guess is he better hope WADA is pouring his A and B samples down the drain. And WADA better hope they have a strong drain.

Miculescu, let out of his cage for the competition

The kid is strong and fast, but about as unrefined as amateur internet porn. His 157 and 180 were enough to get him silver overall, though.

The Turk, Mete Binay, was far more of a technician, especially in the snatch. He and the Chinaman battled it out for gold in that lift, and each took a shot (and missed) at a world record 166. Both were close misses, but Liao’s, which he threw behind, was more convincing.

Mete Binay, gold medal snatch at 160

Liao about to launch 166 up and behind him

In the jerk portion there was no competition. It was everybody else, and then it was Hui Liao. He waited until the entire field had gone, probably napping, before coming out with an easy opener of 184 or something, just to win. Having done that easily, he moved on to the world record for his second attempt. 198 fucking kilos, and he did it with ease. He passed on his third, but there was more in him. In both snatch and clean and jerk this guy looked to be doing about 5 kilos less than his max.

The division of the clean and jerk into two essential phases–the Chinese lifter, and then everyone else–is a fitting representation of the bigger picture. These guys are in a league of their own.

Unfortunately by this point my camera was totally dead.

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