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How They Do It In Nauru
Topic: How They Do It In Nauru (Read 711 times)
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How They Do It In Nauru
Dec 22, 2005, 05:10 PM »
Interesting piece found on the QWA site (author Ian Moir) about a tiny little backwater of a place that is producing great young lifters. Steve Gough, if you see this, note the remark on their training frequency . . . gee, what system might they be emulating??? . . . if you want to retire to a Pacific island, this might be the one.
How Do They Do It?
By Ian Moir
A number of the Queenslanders present at this yearâ€™s Telstra National U16 & U18 Championships in Perth have remarked about the amount of talent oozing from the pores of the visiting U16 lifters from Nauru. No wonder, when the results show a 12 year old girl snatching 55kg and jerking 77.5kg and a 14 year old boy weighing 71kg, snatching 105kg and jerking 120kg (he attempted 130kg but failed). While these two lifters stood out among the 19 athletes in the Nauru contingent, the rest of coach Paul Coffaâ€™s crew are not all that far behind them.
So how does a small independent island nation floating in the Pacific Ocean (and Iâ€™m talking about Nauru, not Australia) produce such good weightlifters? Well, some of the answers to this question were conveyed to Peter Thomsen and me when the Nauru team dropped in on the QWA during a brief stop-over on their way to Perth last month.
It goes something like thisâ€¦
The island of Nauru is less than 50km in circumference and supports a population of around 10,000 (I think). The mining of phosphate, a valuable agricultural fertilizer, over the last 30 years or so has made the people of Nauru quite wealthy and they enjoy a comfortable yet simple lifestyle. The range of recreational activities available on the island is not great. All this adds up to a lot of wealthy people living in a small close-knit community who have very little to do with there spare time.
Enter Marcus Stephen, successful international weightlifter and Nauruâ€™s most popular (possibly only) sporting hero. Marcusâ€™ exploits in weightlifting generated enormous interest in the sport and a few years ago, former Australian national coach Paul Coffa moved to Nauru and took up the position of Sports Director. Weightlifting is now the national sport. Indeed it is the only sport in which Nauruans (if thatâ€™s the correct term) represent their country and according to Paul, children all over the island "play" at weightlifting in their back yards, snatching and jerking sticks and brooms. To top it off, Nauruâ€™s young weightlifters, such as those who impressed in Perth, are training two or three times a day, up to six days a week.
Nauruâ€™s love affair with weightlifting is supported tremendously by the government and local commercial operators. The weightlifting training centre has 20 platforms, each with at least one full set of Eleiko barbells and weights. Weightlifting appears on television regularly via the Nauru-based Sports Pacific Network (SPN). In fact an SPN crew recorded the Telstra National U16 & U18 Championships in Perth for broadcast throughout the Pacific region.
And now the big question. Is it possible for us here in Queensland to replicate the Nauru experience? Sadly, no. Weightlifting is not the only game in town here. Sport is not even the only game in town and for most Queenslanders the need to earn a living takes precedence over sport unless their chosen sport can provide financial security. But what we can do here is adopt a more realistic sense of what constitutes a good performance and what level of training is required to achieve that performance. For any lifter who wants to be really successful, training for 1 to 2 hours, 3 or 4 times a week is just not going to produce competitive results.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, I think if lifters are happy to just cruise along and enjoy whatever they are doing in the sport, thatâ€™s great. In fact that attitude just about sums up my own short and unremarkable lifting career. But for those who aspire to truly elite levels, think about this: the last Queensland weightlifter to represent Australia in the Olympic Games was Peter Phillips (Munich 1972). Two current Queensland lifters, Craig Wegert and Anthony Martin are able to lift more than Peterâ€™s personal best in clean & jerk. Craig finished second at last yearâ€™s Telstra National Championships and Anthony placed 14th at the World Junior Championships this year.
So the message is clear: anyone who wants to make it to the big time in weightlifting is going to have to work as hard at it as at least one 12 year old Nauruan does.
How They Do It In Nauru
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