Friday, 3 August 2012

Olympic athletes in perspective

Barbara and I fly to Lusaka tonight for our week of nostalgia on the Zambian Copperbelt town of Chingola.

Our only regret is that we will be missing out on the Olympics, which has enthralled us over the past week, as it has millions of people across the world.

A few nights ago I was watching the weightlifting and it brought back memories of one of my closest friends during my time in Zambia.

Peter Fiore, with metallurgists Doug Edmunds,
Vic Bryant and me, 1971
Peter Fiore, who will be well known to most people who lived in Chingola in the early 70s, was an instrumentation technician on the mine and we got to know each other during his regular visits to check flowmeters, density gauges and other essential instruments on the concentrator. He was also the Zambian light-heavyweight power-lifting champion. Only 1.63m tall, he was built like an ox and was immensely strong. In 1978 he became world powerlifting champion in the middleweight class, and he now lives in the UK and is President of the Commonwealth Powerlifting Federation.

In 1972 I was blossoming as a squash player, and Peter took me under his wing and essentially became my personal trainer. The regime he set for me was intensive weight-training in one hour sessions three times per week, but the results were outstanding, not only helping my squash considerably, but also improving my performance at other sports, including  competitive powerlifting.

Straining to deadlift 202 kg, 1972
My best lift was the deadlift, and as a middleweight my personal best in competition was 202 kg, which was put into context while watching the Olympic weightlifters, some of whom, in the same weight class were lifting well over 180 kg in the clean and jerk. For the uninitiated the deadlift requires the lifter only to stand straight with the weight, whereas in the clean and jerk the weight has to be ‘cleaned’ to chest level, before being ‘jerked’ overhead. I have incredible admiration for Olympic weightlifters; the moves are much more skilful than in powerlifting, and it also takes tremendous courage to dip under a moving bar before standing upright.

Yes, I will miss the skills and strength on display over the next week, which are truly amazing- have any of you tried to just walk along a gymnasium beam? If you have you will appreciate the skills and courage of the tiny girls who perform backward somersaults on this daunting apparatus!

6 comments:

  1. Received an email from Peter Fiore today. He won the Master 4 World Championships in the 83kg class in Texas in October 2013. He is probably the only man who has won an "Open" World Championships and a "Master World Championships (several). He has represented the UK many times and broke a few world records-and it all started in Chingola with his training partners!

    Peter now lives in Sydney and has been a Personal Fitness Trainer for many years, as well as a UK Strength and Conditioning Coach and an Australian Powerlifting Coach. So he has represented Zambia, England, GB and now Australia.

    He hopes to defend his World title in the states in September for the final final last time! But he damaged his right knee at the last one and is praying that he will recover in time.

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  2. Heard today the sad news that Peter Fiore recently died suddenly, at the age of 74.

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  3. I heard the sad news only today, and as a result did some searching on Google which brought me here.
    I was an active member of the Nchanga Weightlifting club, and like yourself, Peter took me under his wing. You might not remember me as I was a member a few years later, about 1974 onwards. I certainly remember all the guys in your photo, and it brought back memories of the many (happy) pints I perspired in that gym!

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  4. Hi Alan. More details at http://min-eng.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/in-memory-of-peter-fiore-nchanga-legend.html. Sorry we never met, I left Chingola in 1973.
    You will find much to interest you at http://min-eng.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Zambia

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  5. Many thanks for all that info, I shall look into it now.
    Although I did not go down the gym until about the end of 1973, I actually arrived in Chingola in November 1970. I do remember seeing yourself and the other guys around the place. Are you still in touch with any of them?

    Thanks again for getting in touch

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  6. Yes, quite a few. You will see that in the Zambian section of the blog. I am sure you will know many of them.

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