We heard of the sad news that Tommy Kono passed away on Sunday at the age of 85. Kono was a two-time Olympic Champion and six-time World Champion in weightlifting, and set world records in four different weight classes (the only lifter to ever do so). Kono coached Team USA at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, and continued to coach weightlifting through seminars and educational workshops for the majority of his life. He was also a pioneer in bodybuilding and was named "Mr. Olympia" three times.
Kono was born in Sacramento and has always been an icon in Northern California - several of our competitive weightlifters at Arena Ready have even competed in the annual PWA/USAW Tommy Kono Open. I never had the pleasure of meeting Tommy Kono myself, but Sarah did... very briefly. He has a special place in our heart, not only because of his NorCal roots, legendary status in the sport of weightlifting, and incredible life story, but because of the humor and grace he displayed during the above-mentioned brief meeting.
At the 2012 USAW National Championships Mr. Kono did the podium finishers the honor of placing the medals around their necks during the awards ceremony. Tommy Kono is maybe 5'5" tall... Sarah stands at 5'11" (almost unheard of in the sport of weightlifting for a female). After struggling a couple of times to reach up and get the ribbon around Sarah's head Mr. Kono looked up at her, shook her hand, and uttered a few words with a chuckle and a grin on his face. Sarah laughed in response as I snapped the fuzzy picture you see below - I didn't know at the time what it was that he said to make her laugh. When I saw her ten minutes later I gave her a hug, and said "Holy crap that was cool! That was Tommy Kono! What did he say to you?!"
Sarah laughed again and quoted Mr. Kono word for word, complete with the humorous tone he had in his voice...
"Very LONG pull."
To this day we laugh about it and find ourselves enjoying the story, and how true and accurate his words were. When I heard the news of his passing on Sunday I instantly checked my photo archive to see if I still had the picture of that magical moment Sarah shared with a sporting legend. I'm so glad it was still on my phone.
Thank you, Tommy Kono, for all that did for the sport of weightlifting. You will be missed.
WOD for 04-25-16:
Alternating EMOM for 5 Rounds (10 Minutes):
ODDS: 3 Push Jerks, Climbing - no rack
EVENS: 15/12 Calorie Row
AMRAP 12 Minutes:
3 Rounds of "Cindy"
5 Shoulder-to-Overhead @ 155/105lbs
1 Round of "Cindy" is:
15 Air Squats