It is that time again.
Time to shirk all normal responsibilities, ditch your normal day to day routine, tell your boss/supervisor that you’ve come down with a 10-day case of the flu, load up on unhealthy amounts of caffeine and whatever other stimulants you can get your hands on, and get ready to consume a steady diet of watching things being picked up and thrown down.
It is time, of course, for nothing other than one of the greatest spectacles of organized sports known to man.
It is time for the World Weightlifting Championships.
The Championships kicked off yesterday in Paris, France, and will continue until next Sunday afternoon. It will be a near-constant barrage of lifting, with at least three sessions for every weight class and something like six weight classes stretching into four separate sessions.
It is also, of course, a pre-Olympic year, meaning competition–which will determine slots for London 2012–is likely to be serious. A quick look at the start list shows that the heavy hitters–Russia, China, Armenia, Korea–aren’t here to screw around.
China has already locked up two gold medals: Yuan Tian won the women’s 48 class with lifts of 90 and 117. Her next closest competitor, Panida Khamsri of Thailand, finished twenty kilos below. And in the men’s 56 class the situation was similar, with the Chinese taking a one-two finish. Wu Jingbaio managed 133 and 159–serious weights, for anybody paying attention–and his teammate Zhao Chaojun finished with 128 and 156.
If these two classes are any indication, the Chinese are not fucking around.
But it’s still early, of course, and as last year’s world championships proved–where Armenia’s Tigran Martirosyan managed to beat the mythically strong Lu Xiaojun–anything is possible. The only guarantee at this point, from a look at a start list that includes guys like Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin [Illin] and Belarus’s Andrei Rybakov (in the B session, no less, with a posted 366), is that there should be some serious heavy lifting going on, by both the men and the women.
Perhaps most importantly, the Russians are once again letting Klokov out of his cage. If you listen carefully, you can probably already hear him screaming, as his handlers struggle to keep him from devouring a poor French village in the days before the competition.
But I’ve got a flight to catch now. It’s the first leg of a brutal 15+ hour journey to Paris, where I plan to do as much as possible to cover the story. Like last year, I have no legitimate press pass, and so I’ll need to rely on, uh, other means to get access. But last year was in Turkey, a country whose organizational and bureaucratic skills aren’t exactly up to French standards. The French aren’t likely to be so lax about things, nor as friendly.
But I’ll worry about that later. First I’ve got to make this awful flight and layover to Paris from Portland Maine, via Newark, and then I’ve got to figure out where the hell my hotel is…