Commonwealth Games: Chalaev back for second tilt

By David Leggat

Weightlifter’s tale of loss captured hearts at Delhi, this time it’s injuries he’s overcome

Stas Chalaev's silver medal win was one of the most heartwarming stories of the Delhi Games. Photo / Dean Purcell
Stas Chalaev's silver medal win was one of the most heartwarming stories of the Delhi Games. Photo / Dean Purcell

It was among the stories of the Delhi Games, back in 2010.

The sight of the big man on the dais at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex with a silver medal around his neck, clutching a photo of his mother, brought tears to hardened eyes at the arena that night.

Now Stanislav Chalaev is back for a second tilt, in Glasgow next month, again in the 105kg division.

To get there he's had to have surgery to both knees. They ruled him out of each Commonwealth qualifying event, meaning he had to perform at the Oceania champs in Noumea a couple of weeks ago. Talk about leaving things late.

To backtrack, Chalaev's mother, Larissa Reid, had brought Stas to New Zealand from Siberia when he was 12 years old. He spoke no English, "only hello", he recalled.

Teammate Richie Patterson was his early mentor. All went well for Chalaev until 2009, when his mother died.

Leading coach Adam Storey remembered it as "a tragic time, we didn't think he'd be able to bounce back".

The images of Chalaev, photo clutched in his hand with the silver medal, provided one of the most heartwarming stories of the Games.

Four years on, Chalaev is part of a team of 12 lifters heading to Glasgow. It's New Zealand's largest weightlifting Games team, five up from Delhi.

Chalaev will lift last at the event, competitions being done by weight going upwards. Hopes are high he can provide a stirring finale.

"For me he's a proven silver medallist," Weightlifting New Zealand high performance director, and team manager, John Moss said yesterday.

"He's a real role model for the way he trains, his focus. He's not a flashy type of lifter. He's a guy who puts in the work and the way he's managed his injuries commands huge respect."

Several lifters are backing up from Delhi. Fellow 2010 medallist Patterson is back, as is boat builder and superyacht skipper Mark Spooner for a third Games. He took a break from the sport but proved his ability with victory at the Oceanias.

Philippines-born Lou Guinares returns in the 56kg class, this time with his older brother Ianne, who will lift in the 62kg class, for company.

Tracey Lambrechs, South African-born and ranked third in the Commonwealth, heads the women's team of four, which also includes Patterson's fiancee, Philippa Hale, ranked fifth after just two years in the sport.

Weightlifting, with judo, boxing and wrestling, contains several athletes capable of nailing medals in Glasgow. This is an important event, as they battle for recognition. Several of the squad will head to Finland for a pre-Games training camp.

- NZ Herald

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