My Week with Uzbekistan’s National Weightlifting Team: Travel, T-shirts, and Plov

If you may have ever visited the USA Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, you’ll discover instantly that the power isn’t a excessive finish resort. It is a conveniently situated, one-stop store for an athlete to coach, recuperate, sleep, keep wholesome, and enhance their abilities. During my current journey to Uzbekistan for the 2016 Asian Weightlifting Championships, I had the chance to go to their Olympic Training Center (OTC). My first impression of the Uzbekistan OTC in Chirchiq, Tashkent Region of Uzbekistan, was that it was just like their American counterparts, besides the general facility was far more …. fundamental. AND there have been much more cows than in Colorado Springs.

Monday, April twenty fifth was my first full day within the nation. I used to be notified by a number of members of the Uzbekistan National Weightlifting Team that they had been having two coaching classes that day (10AM and 5PM) and they needed me come watch. In addition to being my associates and very pleasant individuals, they knew I introduced them tshirts from the United States – and all people likes cool tshirts. I’ve been associates with a number of members of the Uzbekistan National workforce for a number of years, primarily by means of 85KG workforce member Muhammad Begaliev. Begaliev’s mom lives in New York City, and I’ve a number of occasions had the privilege of serving as his competitors coach at native occasions. Additionally, I’ve met and befriended different workforce members who I’ve met on the Senior World Championships over the past a number of years.

Uzbek Shirts

At 3PM I took a 30 minute taxi trip from my resort to the OTC. Chirchiq is certainly thought of “farm country,” and I noticed many individuals taking their cows for walks on a leash. My first cease was a dormitory the place the athletes reside. It resembles a university dorm, as all of the athletes reside in single or double occupancy rooms, with a bigger shared widespread space. I used to be first greeted by Begaliev, since he’s a scholar at Lindenwood University and is fluent in English. However, the remainder of the workforce got here by to say good day, every with numerous ranges of English fluency (which had been just about all higher than my Russian or Uzbek). For instance, Ruslan Nurudinov (105KG, 2013 World Champion) is principally fluent in English, whereas Ullubek Alimov (85KG, 2014 World Championships Silver Medalist) speaks solely Uzbek and can perceive Russian. However, all of them loved the tshirts I introduced from the USA that featured Muhammad Begaliev’s image.

Uzbekistan Weightlifting Trip

After a tour of the dormitory space, we walked subsequent door to the coaching heart for the 5PM coaching session. It is a really fundamental facility, with platforms constructed into the ground and moveable squat racks. There are not any footage of nice Uzbek Weightlifters from the previous or references to the Olympic Games. The solely noticeable function is a radio, which one of many athletes plugged their iPhone into so they might hearken to rock music throughout coaching. It is value noting that at 5PM sharp, Nurudinov stated one thing in Russian, and they walked subsequent door to the monitor and everybody (together with myself) ran a lap across the monitor. While they don’t do “cardio,” that is a part of their warmup. They then did stretching on the monitor earlier than strolling again to the burden room to do their final heavy exercise earlier than the competitors.

Nurudinov Weightlifting Warmup

Ruslan Nurudinov serving to a fellow lifter heat up

After coaching, I used to be invited to have dinner with a lot of the athletes. We went to a neighborhood restaurant that served the nationwide dish of Uzbekistan: Plov. I had the privilege of driving alongside in Ruslan Nurudinov’s automobile. From what I’ve gathered, most individuals within the nation do not need automobiles, and that holds true for the athletes as nicely. As a comparability, athletes in Russia who’re Olympic Medalists or World Champions usually obtain luxurious automobiles as a part of their compensation (BMW, Lexus, or Audi). In comparability, Nurudinov has a really good Toyota, which he obtained as compensation for profitable the World Championships in 2013.

I used to be given an instance week of the workforce’s coaching schedule main as much as the Asian Championships, which I’ve included under, alongside with a photograph of the unique Russian language model.

Uzbek Training Week

Uzbekistan Weightlifting Program Original

Note: On the coaching program, when it says, for instance, 85% 5/1+2, which means 5 singles of energy then 5 singles of full (i.e. energy snatch and then full squat snatch).

In my restricted interplay with the workforce, the standard of lifetime of an athlete in Uzbekistan seems to be higher than the typical for the nation — however to be truthful, I’ve solely seen a small fraction of what Uzbekistan has to supply, and it’s a remarkably giant nation. From an early age, the athletes begin out of their house cities with a neighborhood coach, and as they progress they work their manner towards the nationwide workforce. Most have school levels the place they studied bodily training, although in Uzbekistan I interpreted that as extra broader than in America the place most individuals consider a bodily training (health club) instructor. Abroad, bodily training would come with subjects akin to Physical Therapy, Kinesiology, Anatomy, Physiology, and far more.

Graber and Doston Yakubov

The creator and Doston Yakubov (69KG), eighth at 2014 World Championships

Another fringe good thing about being an athlete in Uzbekistan is a chance to see the world. As an American, I take that without any consideration. I can use my bank card to purchase an airplane ticket. The common individual in Uzbekistan doesn’t have bank cards or entry to what Americans would possibly contemplate regular banking. The foreign money is considerably devalued to the purpose the place $1 U.S. is value roughly three thousand models of Uzbek foreign money. A majority of the athletes I met had traveled to Houston, TX, in November for the World Championships and they loved the meals, the individuals they met, and their total expertise within the United States. Very few Uzbeks have ever — or perhaps will ever get to — expertise that, not less than within the close to future.

Press PassMy (restricted) understanding of the nationwide workforce’s compensation system is that every member does obtain a month-to-month allotted stipend, nevertheless the primary incentive program is pay for outcomes. If you medal on the Olympics or win a World Championship, that’s the place the numerous cash comes into place. For instance, Nurudinov informed me that he owns his own residence within the metropolis of Tashkent; he solely lives within the dorms for coaching functions at particular occasions of the yr revolving round competitors. Begaliev knowledgeable me that the month-to-month stipend he at the moment receives is lower than what he makes in American working his part-time job instructing weightlifting.

Life after weightlifting seems about the identical; a couple of go into teaching, however that choice seems to be based mostly extra on understanding the appropriate individuals than the rest. I didn’t get the impression they obtain pensions, so when their weightlifting profession ends, the cash ends as nicely. In that regards, it’s the similar as being an American weightlifter.

Editors notice: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t essentially replicate the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced completely by the creator.

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