The picture above is of Alexandr Karelin, the most dominant Greco-Roman Wrestler in History. He won 9 World Championships and 3 Olympic Gold Medals. His lifetime record was 887 wins and 2 loses. Alexandr was supremely conditioned and nearly flawless in his technical execution. These things however took a backseat to his biggest advantage, his brutality. Alexandr’s signature move was the reverse lift. The most difficult move in Greco-Roman wrestling, Karelin mastered and made it look easy. With this move he didn’t win by points, or by a pin so much as he made his opponents quit. His attitude was he wasn’t only going to beat you, he was going to embarrass you for stepping on to his mat.
Weightlifting and Wrestling have a lot in common. In both discipline’s years of hard work and sacrifice are defined in a matter of minutes. A dream can be full-filled or killed in one moment.That may seem harsh but it is the truth. It is not always the most physically talented athlete that see’s his or her dream come to fruition. It is the one with the best attitude. Within that one word are many other synonyms that reflect an athlete’s character, confidence and mentality. No matter what is happening outside of training, an athlete is always in control of his or her attitude. Any athlete can tell me they are willing to make sacrifices and do what it takes. Attitude shows me.
Attitude is critical to success. Although years of hard work can be defined in moments, it’s the day to day training that will get you to that career defining moment. Training will not always go well. Life will not always go well. Your attitude will keep you focused on your goals no matter what happens. The moment of truth doesn’t come for many athletes. Few get the chance to compete for a spot of the Sr. World Team or Olympic Trials. Fewer still end up making it.
The athletes with the right attitude thrive in the moments of truth. It doesn’t just happen by wild random coincidence. Some athletes are born with the right attitude, for others it develops in training. If an athlete wants to be a champion any coach worth their weight is going to test that athlete’s resolve. Do I want you to tell me your goals, the small and the big? Sure. However, an athlete is going to have to show me. Hit a pr snatch? Great. If I know you can do a few kilos more I’ll tell you to load it. Give me a funny look I’ll tell you to move on to the next exercise. If you load the plates and then start to focus for the next pr, I know you have the right attitude.
As a coach that’s what I’m looking for. Attitude reveals to me everything I need to know about an athlete. Be singular in focus. Be a little selfish. Be the jerk that won’t hangout with friends because you have to train. Be the athlete that stays at the gym when training is done to work on weaknesses. Show me how much you want to succeed. Rest assured we will work on technique, strength, mobility. Those are the fundamentals of weightlifting but they take a backseat to attitude.
Karelin training and toying with opponents.