Several years ago, in the post that eventually gave this blog its current name after the
hostile takeover by hosting offer from hookgrip.com, I wrote of the glorious Arnold Expo in Columbus, Ohio, as a veritable human circus. At the time the comparison seemed appropriate, what with the various species of strange humans on display, ranging from pint-sized cheerleaders done up like nineteenth-century Parisian streetwalkers to hulking, slow-moving strongmen and women whose shirt size is measured in hectares.
But a circus—a real circus, that is—implies a degree of control or design. There is the element of potential danger, and staged chaos is used to great effect, but always there is a central focus, and typically a ringleader is there, either behind the scenes or onstage, to pull order from the darkness.
There is no such order at the Arnold, where the multitude of sports and booths and attractions prevents there from being any one focus (and indeed that is part of the event’s great appeal). At the Worlds, however, the focus is quite clear: the lifting stage. True, there is madness in every direction—in the training hall, in the hotel lobby, in line for the buffet—but always there is the center ring: the competition platform.
So far the main attraction has seen several world record attempts, including a triple-bodyweight clean and jerk in the 56s and a shot at the 62 clean and jerk record, neither of which was successful.
But then, out of the primordial chaos, comes the phenomenal 198-kilo clean and jerk by China’s Liao Hui (which also gave him a new record in the Total). This was the same lift that Liao did back at the Worlds in 2010 (the first Worlds attended by the monkeys reporting staff of The
Mint 400 Human Circus), which was later stripped from him due to the small problem of a doping violation. Back in 2010 Liao also attempted to take the snatch record with 166, which he again tried in Wroclaw, although in both cases the record held.
Unfortunately for The Human Circus, the lab that houses the monkeys has requested them back, and we’ve thus had to relocate much of our operations to the wrong side of the Atlantic, back with the hoi polloi. I left a camera with USAW’s Head of
Spanish International Relations, Señor Graber, but I’m not sure he knows how to use it. There’s also a good chance I’ve lost him completely to the Spanish team and a certain female weightlifter on said team.
But the Human Circus will continue! The competition will go on, and so must this blog! There is still much to say from behind the scenes, and if Graber figures out how to work my camera he may even send pictures and video my way, although the
terrible nonexistent Internet at the hotel does present a bit of a problem.
And, of course, today the myth himself lifts: none other than Lu Xiaojun. After our earlier encounters—here and here—I ran into him once more on my way out of the hotel. Upon seeing him I pushed through the adoring crowds of people to say goodbye and touch his intercostals one final time.
“Leaving already?” he asked.
“Yes. Unfortunately I have to get back to work.”
“Work? Like in a factory, putting together electronic equipment?”
“Worse,” I said. “Academia.”
“Ah. I’m sorry.” He then leaned in close. “Listen, I’ve been able to get around the internet a lot since getting out of China. I keep reading things and now I’m a bit confused. Tell me: when I am lifting, am I doing catapult or triple exten—”
I slapped him across the intercostals. “Dammit Lu! Get a grip man. Just go out and lift the fucking weights!”
He seemed to snap out of it. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, of course.”
There you have it. I may have averted tragedy. In a few short hours we’ll know whether my impromptu pep talk had its desired effect. The Human Circus—with Dr Tamás Aján as its
overlord ringleader—will continue. Until then, I leave you in the grace and favor Akkaev…