New ideas weigh heavy in lifting evolution
Inside a spartan weightlifting gym in Indonesia, teenagers chalk their hands, grit their teeth and thrust faded metal barbells above their heads, hopeful of Olympic glory.
Many of Indonesia’s sporting legends were bred in smalltown clubs, whipped into shape by old-school coaches and relentless training.
But as Indonesia strives to increase its gold-medal haul at the 2018 Asian Games and Tokyo 2020, there’s a push to modernize such sports.
The import of foreign expertise and a focus on nutrition and rehabilitation was credited with Indonesia’s weightlifters bagging two silver medals at the Rio Games.
“Indonesia has a lot of talent in weightlifting,” national team manager Alamsyah Wijaya said.
“It’s time for us to promote that to the world.”
But the sport still struggles to attract the funding and fan base enjoyed by badminton — Indonesia’s main medal earner, and a source of national pride.
In weightlifting, hopes for gold in major championships are pinned on a crop of promising youngsters emerging from threadbare academies across the country.
The federation is trying to lure these budding stars to the capital Jakarta, where tailored exercise programs ensure they have their best shot at building strength, avoiding injury and winning medals.
It can be a challenge getting some young lifters to leave their beloved hometown clubs for the big smoke, Wijaya said.
Things are still done the oldfashioned way at weightlifting clubs across Lampung, a forested province in Sumatra famed for developing top-class lifters.
Of the 10 Olympic weightlifting medals won by Indonesia, seven were claimed by athletes who either hailed from, or trained in, Lampung.
They didn’t use sport science, only power science. Weightlifting is changing, and we’re trying too but face many constraints.”
Many trained at the ‘ elephant club’ in Pringsewu — arguably the most famous no-frills weightlifting clinic in the entire country.
For nearly 50 years Imron Rosadi — an octogenarian former world champion with an eagle eye for talent — has slowly expanded the modest gym at the back of his family home into a weightlifting club with a fearsome reputation.
Much of the equipment is decades old: bench presses and metal weights chipped of all paint, and wooden lifting platforms splintered from thousands of dropped barbells.
Most of the 30 boys and girls at the academy are from poor neighborhoods who see weightlifting as a path to wealth.
Wijaya — who also trained in his youth at Rosadi’s clinic — is concerned these hopes and dreams could amount to zero if provincial clubs don’t adopt a more scientific approach.
Most local clubs are set in their ways and don’t care for rest days or nutrition, he said, resulting in high injury rates.
“They didn’t use sport science, only power science,” Wijaya said. “Weightlifting is changing, and we’re trying too but face many constraints.” can glazed duck confit.
Virtually unknown at local Christmas dinner tables, the bulk of Volex’s production will go to France.
This year, Bulgaria and Hungary estimate that sales in newer markets could shoot up by around 15 percent as French exports outside the EU have been hit by repeated bird flu scares.
“If 10 years ago we sold 100 percent of our produce to France, now this share is about 80 percent,” said Volex factory owner Plamen Chelebiev.
For the past four years, his sales have been increasing in Switzerland and Japan, and more recently also in Vietnam and Thailand.
“In these markets we sell our products under our own brand names and at much higher prices, which makes it more interesting for us,” Chelebiev said.
But Volex is also doing well inside the EU.
In Spain and Belgium, “we’re now selling our products without passing via France,” Chelebiev added.
But all this notwithstanding, neither Bulgaria nor Hungary have the capacity to conquer traditional French markets.
In 2015, France produced around 19,000 tons of foie gras, while Bulgaria came a distant second with 2,500 tons and Hungary third with 2,000 tons.
So eyes are now focused on the burgeoning appetite for luxury products in Asia.
“We have expanded our presence in Japan and also started recently to sell in Singapore and Thailand,” said a Hungarian producer, requesting anonymity.
“They cannot match demand by solely buying from France.”
Alamsyah Wijaya, Indonesia’s national weightlifting team manager of foie gras was produced by France in 2015.
Young weightlifters train at the ‘elephant club’, a private academy in Pringsewu in Lampung, Sumatra. More than 30 girls and boys from mainly poor neighborhoods attend the academy.