An excerpt from Leonid Zhabotinsky’s autobiographical book “On the Top of Olympus”:
- February morning 1960, there is a snowstorm on the street, I am going to a small village near Moscow where weightlifting training was taking place. Here the national team of the country, to which I was accepted, was preparing for the traditional international competition for the capital’s cup.
I found myself in an unusual society in which for the first time throughout my sports career I trained side by side with masters of the highest class. Here were Olympic champions, world and European record holders and future heroes of the 17th Olympiad, which was to be held in the capital of Italy in 1960. This made my head spin. I imagined that I was on Olympus, and they were all like gods and very close, I could approach everyone, shake hands, talk, ask questions
But most of all I was naturally interested in two people: Alexei Medvedev, who was the first to cross the 500-kilogram mark at the 1956 World Championships in Tehran and the future triumphant of the Roman platform Yuri Vlasov, with whom I was in the same weight category and in the near future I had to establish our “relationships” and “finding out preferences” at the capital’s cup.
- I was pleased that I was able to demonstrate the best amount of 455 kg at these competitions. My sports “fruit” obtained at these competitions did not bring much glory, but I began to think about heavy weights and progressive results. The USSR record in the snatch of 147.5 kg, held by Alexei Medvedev, seemed especially close to attainable. In training, I already took this weight and at competitions I repeatedly showed 150 kg, so I set myself the task of doing at least 148 kg at these competitions. The snatch remained my signature movement and the results in it were stable. He did what he had in mind, but Alexey Medvedev again “ran away” from me, he lifted 2.5 kg more in the snatch
“Whoever is strong in the clean and jerk is strong in general,” says weightlifting wisdom. For a long time this movement was bad for me, but I polished it before the competition. When the time came to do the clean and jerk on the barbell of 167.5 kg, my opponent Vislovodsky did not lift this weight, but I fixed it, but after lowering the apparatus, the bar slipped out of my hands and fell onto the platform with a roar. Another attempt - the barbell on the chest, I had already pushed it out with straight arms and the judge’s command to lower it sounded. But I don’t lower it, I throw it full of joy and see with apprehension how the chief judge of the competition announces the decision. It's not a decision, it's a sentence. The weight is not counted for throwing the barbell again. That's all. You can complain, scream, even appeal to the Lord God - it won’t help, your incontinence is to blame. That’s how victory slipped out of my hands along with the barbell.
- But my sadness faded when I found out that I was included in the Ukrainian national team to perform at the final competitions of the second USSR Spartakiad. My debut on the big all-Union platform could not be considered particularly successful, the fifth place I took at the second Spartakiad gave the team only two points, but I lost the championship to the truly strongest in the country - ahead of me were Yuri Vlasov, Alexey Medvedev, Sergei Romasenko, Evgeniy Novikov - experienced fighters, masters of the "iron game". In such a company it is not a shame to be fifth.
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