September 24th, 2017

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August 2, 1979, Leningrad, USSR – Member of Team USSR Weightlifting, Pavel Syrchin is getting ready to lift in the 100kg class at the 1979 Spartakiad of the USSR.

Pavel Syrchin (b.1957) was one of the most promising athletes of his generation. He was a graduate of weightlifting schools in Perm, Russia.

At 20, Syrchin became the vice champion of the USSR in Rostov.

He trained with the national team and, on a few occasions, Syrchin was selected as a back-up of legendary David Rigert for the major international tournaments. At the 1979 European Championship in Varna, Bulgaria, Syrchin won the silver with 392.5kg (172.5 + 220) in the 100kg class. The gold went to David Rigert at 402.5kg (180 + 222.5).

A few month later, Pavel Syrchin went solo in the 100kg at the Worlds in Saloniki, Greece and became a 1979 World champion.

At the 1979 USSR Spartakiad (on the photo), Pavel won the gold with 395kg total. He snatched 172.5kg, cj’d 222.5 and became really close to his dream – to compete at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

However, in the very last moment, hours before the competition, the coaches and advisors of Team USSR made changes – David Rigert was penned to lift in the 90kg and Igor Nikitin – in the 100kg class. As for Pavel Syrchin, he was out of the picture that time.

These events had rather a very negative impact on Pavel. He never got back to compete for the national team and memories of the 1980 are still painful for him to go through.


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Theater of One Athlete


David Rigert, legendary Soviet Olympic weightlifter, is getting ready to snatch 167.5kg at the 1975 World Championship in Moscow.

This was a trademark prep pose of Rigert on the platform. In a few seconds, he will approach the bar and begin to pull the weight.

Impressive theatrics of an impressive athlete.

In his recent interviews, Rigert remembered how he loved the theater side of performance at the competitions.

What can I say? We loved it too!


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Athletes and Coaches: Chimishkyan and Mekhanik


Featherweight Rafael Chimishkyan and, one of the Team CCCP coaches, Israel Mekhanic are waiting for the shuttle bus in the Olympic village in Helsinki in 1952.

Chimishkyan just won a gold Olympic medal in the 60kg class. It was the first Summer Olympics for the Soviets and Rafael won one of the first medals for the country.

Very seldom happiness and admiration like this can be seen between lifters and coaches nowadays.

The world has changed. Maybe, I am wrong.

It’s a priceless chemistry though captured on the photo.