After a long, long day, I am finally back at the hotel, relaxing for a bit before getting in the three or four hours of sleep needed to survive. I’m sitting in the hotel lobby taking advantage of the only internet that works. The Russian delegation has just arrived, Mike Graber is drinking beers with the Brits while using his laptop to take an online class, and the hotel receptionist is currently engaged in the following phone conversation with one of the hotel’s guests:
“Hello? You speak English?”
“What are you doing in your room? There is water all in the room below you.”
“Hello? Why you don’t speak English? You don’t understand anything? What are you doing in the room? You take the shower or something? There is water in the room below you. Why you don’t speak English?”
But that’s all part of the charm of being at the Worlds, at least from a spectator’s point of view. Certainly it must be a less pleasant experience from the organizer’s side, what with having to deal with hordes of unwashed athletes descending upon the buffet tables like the Visigoths sacking Rome, the dozens of athletes and coaches ignoring the distinction between smoking and non-smoking rooms, and the occasional hotel room being turned into a waterpark.
But most of my time today was not spent in the 2013 Worlds madness. No, the majority of the day was spent with Mr Graber and USAW team physician Dr Lavallee driving around almost all of lower Poland. It’s beautiful country, although a fuscia Suzuki Alto with bicycle tires is not the ideal automobile for tooling around, especially if you’re trying to make it back for the men’s 56A session. The engine—a little two-stroke powerplant taken from a 1974 lawnmower—is currently scattered about the hotel parking lot, as I was forced to push the car to its limits (about 35 mph). I made it back just in time to run out and hail a cab over to the venue.
As in previous years, this resulted in a taxi drive that I was sure would be my last. To put things in perspective, the bus ride from the hotel to the venue has taken around 20-25 minutes; my cab driver did it in eight.
As expected, the final showdown was between China’s Long Qingquan and North Korea’s Om Yun Chol. Both competitors managed two out of three snatches: 127 for Om and 130 for Long. But the three kilo difference (plus bodyweight) was not enough distance between Long and his rival. Going into the clean and jerk, Om had a phenomenal 165 listed as his opener. In the end it was likely strategizing on the North Koreans’ part, as it potentially made the Chinese push their athlete to his limits. But this was strategy backed up with substance: when Om did eventually take his opener, at 162, it was done with relative ease. For his second attempt—after Long missed at 163—Om went for a phenomenal 170, in an effort to break his own record at 169. Unfortunately, after a stellar clean and a locked out jerk, Om’s left elbow gave way.
If the video does not make this abundantly clear, it should be noted how extraordinarily fast Om is. He seems to build up tension throughout the first and second pull, turning his whole body into a compact wad of stored energy, before firing himself under the barbell. There is minimal—if any—drop from the apex of the bar’s path.
Enough for now. It is time for sleep and dreams of Lu Xiaojun. Word has it he was snatching 160 yesterday and clean and jerking 200 (yes, 200) in today in training. Clearly, someone came here to win…