USA Weightlifting Features Artie Drechsler Reme...

Artie Drechsler Remembers Norbert Schemansky

Sept. 10, 2016, 11:17 a.m. (ET)

The rich history of USA Weightlifting includes many who rose to true fame on the world stage. But anyone's short list of the greatest of the greats would have to include Norb Schemansky. While being the first weightlifter in history to win 4 Olympic medals (and 6 World Championship medals in the total) assured his place in weightlifting history, wining his fourth Olympic medal at the age of 40, and after two major back surgeries, should insure his place in the history of sport. He accomplished all of that while competing against many state-sponsored athletes, even though he remained a true "amateur" in the original Olympic sense, supporting his family through full time jobs at least one of which he lost because he took time off to travel to and from the Olympics.

A number of years ago, I had the distinct privilege of delivering a speech on Norb's amazing career at a dinner in his honor. "Ski" often downplayed his fame and before the presentation he half-jokingly said, "Most of the people here probably don't even know who I am." I responded that he'd see in a matter of minutes most of the hundreds in attendance did indeed remember him but that, perhaps more importantly, millions who he'd never met had been, or would in the future be, inspired by his story.

It's the story of a man who was told by his doctors after a second major back surgery that he'd be lucky to walk normally again. Yet, he went on to set more world records and win more Olympic medals. It's a story of a man who was, at the age of 35, told by a well-meaning Olympic coach that he was too old, too injured, too weak, and too small a heavyweight, to compete in the new era of giant super-heavyweights. It's a story of a man whose great accomplishments, undaunted courage, and deep fidelity to the Olympic Ideal deserves to live forever and I'd like to believe that it will.  --Artie Drechsler