Tuesday 31 July 2012

Dotlympics 2012: Day 4

In a flurry of chalk, swearing, pain, subtle Lycra-clad silhouettes of willies and the potential of rectal prolapses, it's about time for some Olympic weightlifting I plum reckon. The pity is it's not the top bodyweight class, because those people are fat. And it's a pity, too, it's not the bottom bodyweight class because those people are small and able to lift several times their own tiny bodyweight. Like ants.

Instead I am watching the 69kg class, which would be my class if only Reece's Peanut Butter Cups had never made the Atlantic crossing. There is a Team GB competitor here, though, who is from Wales. Wales has never struck me as a hotbed of weightlifting. It's really more of a preserve of those central Asian countries with virtually unspellable names and whose Presidents as often as not rename the days of the week after their dog.

Weightlifting is my absolute Olympic highlight. A lot of people like the track and field, but with the European and World championships and the Commonwealth Games, you're pretty much guaranteed to see some medal-slinging athletic action every year in the UK. Events like archery, volleyball and weightlifting, though, they're the special treats. In many ways I feel that long may that remain. As much as I'd like the BBC to launch Weightlifting 24, it would take a small piece of the shine off of my life as a sports watching man.

There's an other-worldliness about the 69kg class. These are the men who you'd sit next to on the tube and never suspect were out of the ordinary but could lift any number of pianos clean over their head. Special, too, is the red button coverage this morning. After the British competitor, Dai Weights, had completed his three lifts in the snatch phase - equalling the British record in the process - the two commentators said they were buggering off out the back to talk to him before the clean and jerk. A rare, rare treat indeed, as I am now watching my beloved Olympic weightlifting in a completely unfettered way, perhaps occasionally giving pause to what dear old David Vine might have said as the action unfolded.

An Uzbekistani gentleman who had arms like pipecleaners just narrowly failed to snatch a full 135kg bar above his head. A quick blast of some UK grime music. Now here's a Thai competitor who looks a bit podgy. He's dropped it too. The theme from Westworld. The Uzbek chap is back. No luck. Some stone cold funk. Here is Ravi Kumar Katulu of India trying to pick up 136kg, which is the equivalent of a snooker cue with a Smeg fridge on either end. Success. Parisian Walkways. The bar is up to 138kg now for an Azerbaijani who is no bigger than a small gibbon but can pull a Jumbo Jet with his knackersack. No problems at all.

There's been some time gap now since the Team GB entrant Gareth The Lift left the stage and yet there's no shortage of new competition. Most of them, like the North Korean athlete now on stage to cleanly snatch a full 140kg bar for his first attempt, are able to lift what Rhodri Muscles could and him while he did it. It puts things in a global perspective, rather. And it makes me very glad that there are no commentators to still be talking about him as a waif-like Turkeminstani wanders out to centre stage with a cow under each arm just as a warm-up.

Just sport. No chat. No Team GB. No needless excuses. It's complete bliss.

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