The Olympic Games are held every four years in different countries around the world. These games are considered one of the most prestigious sporting events and competitions. They have been held since 1896, when they were first introduced at the Stadthalle Munich in Germany. Since then, over 10 million spectators from all over the globe watch these events unfold on television screens worldwide.
In the past, it was not uncommon for athletes to compete with drugs. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made sure that such practices will no longer occur in future Olympics. For example, in 2012, there were only two drug cheats found out of nearly 1 billion tests performed during the games. This number represents a 90% reduction from previous years!
There are many different types of weight lifting that take place at the Olympics. There are also various sports that involve the use of weights. Some of these include:
Powerlifting – This sport involves using heavy objects like barbells or dumbbells to lift other heavy objects. Powerlifters often compete against each other in order to see who can lift the heaviest object. The object is usually to hit a target called a “bench mark”. There are three types of lifts: deadlift, squat and bench press. Each time a lifter succeeds in lifting the target weight they receive a medal.
Olympic-style weightlifting – This type of weightlifting involves using lighter weights and performing a set of movements called the “clean and jerk” or the “snatch”. The lifter tries to perform these movements as quickly as possible by hoisting the weights above their head. The lifters are judged on how accurately and gracefully they perform these movements.
Although the weightlifting events have been a mainstay at the Olympics, they didn’t appear until the Games returned in 1904. The first Olympic champion was a man named George Hackenschmidt from Russia. He performed a feat known as the “one arm jerk” to win gold for his country. Over time, the weightlifting events have been dominated by Eastern European competitors. The most successful countries have been the former Soviet Republics like Russia, Bulgaria and the Ukraine.
Encyclopedia of Weightlifting
The sport of weight lifting has a rich history that predates the modern Olympics by over 1500 years. The ancient Greeks were one of the first civilizations to develop weightlifting contests as a way of testing a warrior’s mettle. During these early competitions warriors would lift rocks and stones in order to strengthen their arms and improve their battle skills.
With the rise of the Olympics in 776 B.C. weightlifting was incorporated into the games but only as a spectator event for the public. It was not until much later that weightlifters could actually compete in the Olympics, and then under limited circumstances. It wasn’t until the 19th century that weightlifting began to appear in its familiar form with two competitors hoisting heavy objects like the dumbbells, shot put and barbells.
One of the more interesting aspects of this ancient sport is that it has been dominated by more “unusual” nations. Russia, Turkey and Germany are three countries that have been dominant forces in weightlifting. The U.S. has never been a weightlifting power, although it produced one of the greatest weightlifters of all-time: Louis Cyr.
Cyr was born in 1867 and was a farm boy from Quebec. As a young boy he was strong enough to single-handedly lift the family barn (according to legend). In 1881 he was working as a lumberjack when one of the other workers began bragging about his strength. The other worker claimed that he could easily beat Louis in a wrestling match. Louis accepted the challenge and after easily throwing the man to the floor numerous times, Louis released him from his hand and foot holds.
The other worker then begged Louis not to throw him again as he feared he might break his back!
Cyr soon tired of working as a lumberjack and moved to Boston where he worked as a street paver. He soon got into wrestling and quickly became one of the most famous strongmen in the U.S. In fact, in 1889 he traveled to Europe and wrestled a famous German wrestler by the name of The Bavarian Strongman. This wrestler weighed over 300 pounds but Louis managed to throw him twice and won the match.
Cyr quickly became known as “The strongest man in the world” after winning a string of contests against some of Europe’s top strongmen. In 1889 he returned to the U.S. and began a successful career performing in sideshows.
Cyr’s legendary strength didn’t only lie in his muscles, but his grip was legendary as well. In fact, he often earned money by allowing people to test his grip. He would let people firmly grasp his hand and then he would gently squeeze using only his thumb and forefinger. People claim that Louis could crush hard nuts and crack bricks with this vice-like grip.
When the Ian Miller’s strength competition came to Boston in 1894, Louis eagerly signed up. Two of the events consisted of pulling a train engine and a horse carriage clockwise up a set of tracks using metal chains. The other event was to lift an anchor from the bottom of a nearby lake.
Cyr entered both events and won easily. But the highlight of the show was the heaviest pole competition. Four poles, each thicker than a tree trunk and weighing over half a ton were placed 20 feet apart. The goal was to pick up one pole, walk with it, replace it and then do it again three more times. The trick was that the poles could not touch the ground or else they would be disqualified.
Cyr entered the event with confidence and by getting a good grip around the pole he managed to lift it from its place. He took two steps before stumbling, but managed to keep the pole off the ground. After taking a moment to regain his balance, Louis set off again. He took three more steps before the pole began to sway dangerously so he set it down to avoid a disaster.
He tried once more and was successful in taking five steps before setting the pole down. After shaking his hands to recover from the strain, Louis picked up the pole again and completed the required eight steps. The crowd went wild and Louis took a bow. He then went on to pick up and walk with the other three poles.
In 1895, Louis found himself in a bit of trouble when he was arrested for being an accomplice to a bank robber. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment but only served one year in the Atlanta Prison Farm. After his release, he lived comfortably in New York and invested in several business ventures.
On April 23, 1918, after attending a show at the Hippodrome Theater in Manhattan, Louis began to feel ill. His condition worsened and by the next morning he was dead. The cause of death was later determined to be heart failure. He was only 43 years old.
Louis Cyr’s life inspired a comic book hero called Iron Man. Louis was also mentioned in various news reports related to strongman competitions. In one such report he was described as “one of the most powerful men who ever walked the earth.”
NOTE: If you found this article interesting you may also be interested in reading about Matthaeus (Fat) Willumsen or Lars Hansen. Thanks for reading!
Sources & references used in this article:
Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches pdf by by G Everett – 2009 – Catalyst Athletics Sunnyvale
Ultimate Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide to Barbell Lifts—from Beginner to Gold Medal by G Everett – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
Complete guide to sport education by D Randolph – 2015 – books.google.com
The complete guide to special event management: Business insights, financial advice, and successful strategies from Ernst & Young, advisors to the Olympics … by AJ Drechsler – 1998 – A is A communications
Mathematics and Sports (Mathematical World, Vol. 3).(Book Reviews) by D Siedentop, P Hastie, H Van der Mars – 2019 – books.google.com