by Al Antuck

Before he left the Soviet Union for the 1972 Olympic Games, Vassily Alexeev was asked several questions about the sport of weightlifting. His answers, which originally appeared in Soviet Life Magazine, will be of interest to everyone.

Who do you think will be your chief rival at the Munich Games? What results will have to be shown to win?

"I would rather not mention any names, because both in competition and training I don't think about my rivals but about the weight I'll have to lift. I believe that approximately 1,430 pounds for the three lifts would be enough for victory at the Olympics in our class. This is the result I'm aiming for."

How popular is your sport in the Soviet Union? Is its popularity growing? What facilities are available for participants?

"Weightlifting is technically a very difficult sport that demands not only great strength but also self-discipline, in fact, complete dedication. It's not for everyone. Nonetheless, it has 470,000 regular participants in the Soviet Union. Excellent facilities for weightlifting are available to physical culture groups, factory sports clubs and sports societies.

"The success of Soviet strongmen in the big international meets is based on our methods of training and preparing top-notch athletes--a big contribution has been made by scientists who were once outstanding weightlifters: Dr. Arkady Vorobyev, a Candidate of Science in Medicine; Robert Roman, Alexei Medvedev and others."
What encounter with American athletes made the biggest impression on you and why?

"At the 1970 World Championships in Columbus, Ohio, neither of the American superheavyweiehts concealed his intentions. Joe Dube, in particular, said that my last successes had awakened in him--I am paraphrasing this--his temper, thirst for battle and confidence for success. As for Ken Patera, he publicly promised that he would be the first superheavyweight in the world to jerk 500 pounds at the World Championships. And someone really did lift that weight in Columbus, but it was me."

What is your trade or profession? What other in- terests have you besides weightlifting?

"l'm a mining engineer, and I live in the city of Shakhty in the Donbas region. There are many things that interest me, but none to the degree that weightlifting does."

This concludes the brief interview that appeared in the Soviet publication, but another of Alexeev's quotes appeared in another article that is also very interesting. He said, "I do not like flowery words, or when people call weightlifters titans and giants. That makes us seem unusual, which is not the case. I am certain that every true devotee of the "iron game" could attain significant results. To achieve a lot you have to work a lot. I know this from personal experience. Persistent, painstaking, dedicated work is the foundation of good performances.

"I am happy that I was able to introduce changes in the world records, and that these records belong to my country. I don't think my total of 640 kilograms for the three lifts is the limit. I am confident the record will be improved in the very near future. I think that I could add another ten kilograms to it at the Munich Olympics.

"I want to add that I am most grateful to the spectators and fans."

As everyone knows Alexeev did improve on his 640 kilo total as he raised it to 645 kilos. His thoughts about the total he would need for victory at the Olympics were a little in error as he totalled 1410.75. He seemed to be capable of 1430 pounds or more. but after Patera and Reding bombed out, with Mang having made 22 pounds less than Alexeev in the press, a total of 1430 was no longer necessary for victory. Alexeev is indeed the world's strongest man, and only the future will unfold new stories about the ability of this amazing athlete.