Shh. Be very still.
Do you hear that? The distant noise of what sounds like a tyrannosaur fighting a pack of rabid velociraptors while riding on top of an out-of-control spaceship?
Yes, that is none other than Dmitriy Klokov, screaming even now as he readies himself for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
I can only imagine the chaos the must be descending upon London right now as Klokov roams the streets, eating double-decker buses and doing one-handed push presses with the entire Royal Family. Somebody should have warned them before they put this bid for the Games in. Don’t let that tux fool you from his appearance on Russia’s “Dancing with the Stars”: this guy is as unrefined as crude oil, and it’s going to take a lot of tea and crumpets to keep him satisfied.
But of course Klokov is not the whole Olympic story, even if he is perhaps one of its most fascinating (and handsome) elements. The entire 105-kilo class promises to be an extraordinary spectacle, despite the fact that Belarusian lifter and 2008 gold medalist Andrei Aramnau was forced to pull out because of an injury. Putting aside the legitimate concerns over how much any start list can be trusted (which is not at all), let us consider the top entrants and their totals: Marcin Dolega (Poland, 430), Oleksiy Torokhtiy (Ukraine, 425), Gia Machavariani (Georgia, 425), Navab Nasirshelal (Iran, 421), Khadzhimurat Akkaev (Russia, 420), and Dmitriy Klokov (Russia, 420). Six athletes with totals of 420 or greater. Some of those totals might be a bit ambitious (at the 2011 Worlds, which featured several of these guys, only the two Russians topped 420 totals), but it’s fair to say there is a good chance the 105s will be an outstanding session.
Klokov, as mentioned, is only part of the story. The Iranian team appears to be coming out in force for these Games, and judging by previous events these guys are willing to risk life and limb and elbow ligaments in the pursuit of ever higher weights. I am consistently amazed by their fearlessness in attempting big weights and willingness to dive under anything they pull off the floor. The only other country I can think of with an athlete that
batshit crazy fearless is North Korea, whose Pang Kum-Chol (77 kilos) makes every single lift look like a losing tug-of-war with gravity and fate. This guy makes Rocky Balboa look like a quitter.
[NB: Is it just a coincidence that this sort of suicidal bravery is exhibited by athletes from countries with, uh, less than perfect human rights records? For all we know these guys are hoping for some career- or life-ending injury just so they can avoid going home. But I digress…]
And of course we can’t forget Marcin Dolega, whose recent appearance in Polish commercials for computer company Acer has almost tempted me to buy one (though only if I can get the Polish version).
[make sure you watch until at least 30 seconds in, so you can see Dolega painting what is arguably one of the greatest works of art of all time.]
But more important, in my view, is Khadzhimurat Akkaev. He is less a man than a goddamn force of nature. Anyone who saw his medal-winning performance at the 2011 World Championships knows that this guy was ready to take—and make—whatever weight he needed to win. In case you have any doubts, consider this video, in which he does a 245 kilo clean and jerk (go to the 1 minute mark if you don’t want to watch his first two attempts at 225 and 235, but why wouldn’t you watch them?).
This video should make two things abundantly clear: (1) if you want to lift big weights, Eurotrash Techno is the way to go, so stop pumping yourself up with classic rock or “death” metal or Nickelback, and (2) Akkaev, when it comes to weightlifting, is “not fucking around”, as they say. His technique may not have the grace traditionally associated with the Russians but he is a complete animal. Somewhere in Russia a zoo is probably missing its gorilla. If Klokov is the unrefined crude oil of lifters, Akkaev is the dinosaur bones and decomposing ferns from whence that oil came. I’m not a betting man, and predictions in weightlifting are often as meaningless as politicians’ promises, but my guess is Akkaev is the man to beat this year.
Anyways, all we can do today is sit back, enjoy the overhyped opening ceremonies, and figure out a way to get around NBC’s stupid paywall to watch all the weightlifting possible over the next two weeks. The 105s may be one of the best sessions, but they certainly will not be the only one.