February 24th, 2017

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The Best of Georgia


The enhanced cover photo from the Lift Up: History in Color series features Rafael Chimishkyan and his coach Pavel Gumashyan in their training gym in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1956. At the time, Chimishkyan was preparing for the Olympic games in Melbourne.

Both took the first position on the top Georgian athletes and coaches lists of the 20th century selected by the weightlifting federation of Georgia in 2001.

Rafael Chimisjkyan was No. 1 on the Best 10 lifters. The other athletes on the top list were Kakhi Kakhiashvili, Dito Shanidze, George Asanidze, Vladimir Svetilko, Moisey Kasyanik, Mukhran Gogia, Bidzina Mikiashvili, Konstantin Zhgenty and George Kochiev.

Pavel Gumashyan was No. 1 on the Best 3 coaches of Georgia followed by Ivan Grikurov and Mamia Zhgenty.

As an athlete, Pavel Gumashyan (1910-1995) was one of the pioneers of Olympic weightlifting in Georgia. During World War II, he served in the Soviet Army and was severely wounded in the Kharkov battle.

The was wounds didn’t allow him to compete again when he came back to Tbilisi and Gumashyan turned into coaching. He coached Team Georgia in the 1940s and 1950s.

Gumasyan worked with such world class athletes as Rafael Chimishkyan, Vladimir Svetilko, Moisey Kasyanik, Akop Faradzhan, Mamia Zhgenty and more.

The photo rolls back the time to 60 years ago.

Chimishkyan is 27. Gumashyan is 46.

Chimishkyan is is in his prime. He won the 1952 Summer Olympics and is getting ready for the new challenge – his second Olympics to be held in Melbourne, Australia.



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These Are Difficult Times


No one can deny that these are difficult times…

It’s the U.S. versus U.S.S.R.

Yet we more or less are —

No one can deny that these are difficult times…

Tim Rice, Chess (1986)

Those were the times of the end of the Cold war when the Chess musical was written.

The Cold War lasted over 4 decades and the core was the relationships between the two superpowers of the time, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.

No one can deny that these were difficult times…

The weightlifting rivalry between the American and Soviet athletes took place from the beginning of the Cold War to its prime time.

In fact, it was the Team USA Weightlifting that was the first ever U.S. sports team to go to Russia to compete against the Soviets. The milestone event took place in 1955 when Bob Hoffman of the York Barbell brought the strongest guys of America to Moscow for the U.S. vs. USSR Olympic weightlifting matches. The matches were held in Moscow and other major Soviet cities and it was a huge success. The Soviet fans fell in love with Paul Anderson, Tommy Kono, Dave Sheppard… The cheered for them as loud as they did for the Soviet athletes.

Bob Hoffman was the last person on the planet Earth to be accused of being a Communist sympathizer. But it was him who chimed in immensely into melting down the coldness between the nations. Started as a “no guts no glory” war on the competition platform, the U.S. vs. USSR weightlifting matches turned into an ongoing popular series of events held for many years. Both sides developed a respect and even friendship in many cases.

The enhanced cover photo from the Lift Up: History in Color series catches the casual moment before the beginning of the match in Philadelphia in 1958.

The centerpiece of the shot are Isaac Berger (USA) and Eugene Minaev (USSR) discussing the tricks of using the chalk powder for lifting.

They look like college buddies.

Does it look like one of the biggest rivals in the history of this sport? In a few minutes they will compete against each other in the featherweight class (60kg).

Trofim Lomakin (USSR, 82.5kg) is passing by. He is preoccupied with his own problems.

In the back, the future national head coach Alex Medvedev is resting before competing in the heavyweight class.

It’s 1958 and no one knows when the Cold War might end.

No one can deny that these are difficult times…

It’s 2017 now and we all know when and how the Cold War ended.

What we don’t know if the new Cold War is about to begin again. Some even say it’s already on.

Perhaps, to stop the madness, we need wisdom, enthusiasm and willingness of those guys in the 1940s and the 1950s. Their reasoning was different depending on the person.

In some cases, it was an opportunity to make money.

Or sportsmanship.

Or pure human curiosity and natural desire to make friends.

Most of the guys on the photo are no longer around.

In fact, only Isaac Berger is alive. He lives in NYC and maybe sometimes remembers these conversations with his buddy Eugene Minaev.

Even the sport of weightlifting is going through hard times.

Perhaps, it’s our turn now to bring back the spirit of Olympic weightlifting and make the world a friendly place to live in.

On the photo below, Trofim Lomakin and his coach Alexander Bozhko are strolling along the streets of Philadelphia in 1958.





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David Rigert: In the Gym


David A. Rigert is ready for the lift.

Does anyone have an idea what kind of exercise is it going ti be?

Obviously the black and white version of this photo has been around for a while. It is mostly used in the publicity materials.

Now, thanks to our Lift Up: History in Color series, we can see it in color and maybe resolve the issue of the type pf lift to expect.

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We miss these guys.

This year we had very few birds visiting our backyard.

This little goldfinch was visiting us on February 21, 2016.

No goldfinches this year. What’s the matter?

We miss goldfinch fellas!