When I was a child growing up in Russia, I trained to be a volleyball player 6 days per week year-round. Twice per day in the summer. Our coach, Alexander Sergeevich Shadinov, was a member of the USSR national team in the 80's. He is freaking awesome. One of my friends
, a few years younger than me, was always a tiny kid. I am average height, which is unacceptably short for a volleyball player. Alexey only ever reached to my shoulder height. He was always awesome skill-wise, if only a bit crazy in terms of character but always had lots of fun. I know that he came from a very poor family, but always had a great work ethic and never slacked. He was always the troublemaker, and often got flack for it from the coaches. Just a mischievous little kid full of energy.
Well, now he plays libero for Zenit Kazan
which is one of the best volleyball clubs in the world. Being one of the best liberos in Russia, he made the London Olympics and just won the gold medal. It was priceless to watch the expression on the Brazilian coach's face after he got a dig kill deep in the fifth set.Another one
of the my former teammates was the setter for that Gold medal team. It's very improbable that two of the starting seven came out of the same small town of a hundred thousand in a country of over a hundred million. I guess that just speaks to how awesome our coach was.
How did it feel? Well, very happy for my friend. Ура, Лёха! I'm also very happy knowing that my former coach watched this match somewhere and saw his work pay off. But for myself, I felt a bit sad that I couldn't be there and to play at that level. Truth is, I was never as good as these two - even as a kid - and the gap is much wider now. There is a definite feeling of somber reflection. Success and skill are all relative, unless you are the best.
I was also snooping around last night to see the world record for squatting is in my weight category. It's over 800 lb, which is to say it's OVER 9000! I can do like half of that on a good day. Gunning for 500 lb.