From 08/11/2010 to 08/18/2010 I had the great opportunity to visit different teams in China and work with them. The first team I visited was the Beijing team where I saw very impressive lifters and even so there’s always the language barrier we spoke the International language of weightlifting. It’s amazing anywhere you go in the world you’ll be able to communicate through weightlifting: Snatch and Clean & Jerk are international words that every body understands anywhere in the world.
Seeing an 85 kg lifter doing 160kg in Snatch and 200Kg in C&J is a very common thing in China.
I stayed at the hotel that hosts many athletes from different sports that are recruited to go to Beijing as resident athletes. This center equivalent to our OTC is called the Talent Retention Center and it’s one of the headquarters of the weightlifting national team. The part of the lifting team that lives there was in the south of China in a Training Camp and I thought for the upcoming worlds in Turkey. They told me they were focused in the Asian games…how so? I asked and I was explained that the importance of competitions is as follows:
1.- Olympic games
2.- Asian games
If a lifter wins the Nationals they receive a big prize ( a house) and if they win the worlds nothing.
All of these athletes are professional athletes and are treated as such.
The base of the national female team is the Army team where I Spent some time. These ladies (I’ve posted videos) are extremely disciplined and they are officers of the Chinese army , their coaches are high rank officers (colonels). I found out that the voleyball coach was a general.
Words can’t describe how amazing seeing these training sessions were. All the ladies start with a long warm up and lots of strechting exercises. They start with the bar and progress with little jumps and lots of reps. When they reach 85% to 95% of the planned goal of the day and if they missed a lift, they go back to the bar and start again. Nobody talks and training is monitored by a head coach,an assistant coach, the team administrator and team manager.
I was informed that I was the first American coach ever to witness their program (don’t know if this is true), Wes Bartnett had visited them; but not witnessed their training. After the first part of the session I was very politely asked to wait out because they had a meeting (as If understood what they were saying) and invited me to re-enter the gym after.
I noticed that the manager of the team would smile at me a lot and was extremely nice. After workout the Coaches invited me to dinner (huge banquet) and through a translator they said I was their guest of honor. They asked me what I thought of their training and also what I would adviced them to improve their training!!!!!my answer was that I was there to learn and become a better coach. They asked me If I could please tell them how we coach American Football Players strenght conditioning….this got me by surprise and I told them the general thing we do with College Players. They started asking lots of questions and taking notes ( I saw myself giving a presentation). The manager sitting next to me and still smiling said trough a translator that he remembers me from different international competitions in the 80′s and 90′s. I was also invited to the house of the head coach and met his very nice family. The head Coach was a very different person at home; a very loving father and husband. In Beijing real state is extremely high, but this coach owns a very fancy apartment that matches the car he drives.
Back at the Talent Retention Center I was still puzzled about the American Football thing. I ran into Mr. Al Biancani, a lengendary American Strenght and Conditioning coach who after retiring from the NBA started working in China with the National Women’s Basketball team, I told him about it and after talking a little we came to the conclusion that the weightlifting coaching staff will be in charge of coaching the Rugby teams when Rugby features at the Olympics again.
The next team I worked with was a university team and the first thing I noticed that mostly none were College Students, they did live and train at the university. their ages were from 15 or younger to 19 or early 20′s. They were recruited from all China to come and train with them. Very strong lifters and great technique. I saw a 69kg lifter doing 163kg in snatch. Some of these lifters have made the national team. My guess is that this is a step prior to the National Talent retention Center.
I was informed that the head coach was in the USA studying English (I believe) and a very qualified coach was in charge of the training program assisted by a former world level female lifter. Same thing here lots of technique, big weights and a lot of bodybuilding type of work.
They did a team warm up and strecht out as well as a brief meeting. After workout they worked in pair with some strechting exercises and massage.
When we talk about China and their great success in weightlifting we just marvel at how great weightlifting in this country has become, however there’s a not so nice side as well that I learned very sadly. For these athletes weightlifting is a way of life, they make their living out of it. A the university team a lot of prospects are sent home for not meeting expected totals, performance, not good and/or fast recovery from injuries, etc. These athletes have nothing besides weightlifting.
Statistics show that in China there are around 300,000.00 former star athletes living in extreme poverty and a lot are homeless. The good thing I herad is that the goverment is starting programs to help them.
Right.- Chart with PR’s in every lift of the female team.
Right.- 58kg lifter with 120kg C & J.
Left and Right.- University team.
Right.- The General Meng Yi back at home…..