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On December 13, 2013 my wife and I had the privilege of visiting our best friends in Adana Turkey for a whole week! The week was, of course, packed with fun times, but from a strictly training standpoint, the highlight of the week was getting to train with my best friend Jacob Anderson at Adana’s Olympic Training Facility for weightlifting.
Going into the week I had planned on taking this week as an unload week, so I did not plan to go heavy during the one training that we had this week. This changed shortly after I started warming up for some light to moderate squats. I noticed somebody walk in the front door of the gym and since the Olympic coaches working in the gym spoke very little English, I asked my friend Jake who the visitor to the gym was. Jake asked the coaches who our visitor was and then told me that he is a former national champion Olympic weightlifter for Turkey who is now 53 years old and has not lifted weights in decades. He just pops in at the gym every now and then to talk with the coaches.
This unnamed visitor stared me down as soon as he walked in the gym, and then wasted no time high tailing to the rack I was squatting on. He immediately threw a 20-kg weight on each side of the bar to make the weight 440 pounds, and then unracked the bar and squatted it for a set of 5 reps (although the depth was very high). He tore his pants on this set, so he took his pants and his shirt off after completing this set. He was now standing next to me in his underwear and an undershirt ready to mark his territory. He was not about to let this American (me) get the glory on his home turf. During the next hour or so this unnamed visitor proceeded to try and “one-up” me on every set of squats, bench presses and RDL’s. Onlookers could almost visibly see smoke coming out of his ears as he got madder and madder with the Turkish coaches getting on him for his poor depth on squats and difficulty with the RDL’s. To add to the hilarity of the situation every time I tried to help him load or unload weights he would shove me out of the way. He also yelled at me in Turkish for the duration of our squat session – to this day I have no clue what he was saying to me.
Well, in the end America came out one top. The steely-eyed Turkish veteran could not keep up on the deadlifts, but I give him credit for putting up quite a fight along the way. Videos of some of this drama are posted on my YouTube channel, if you care to take a look. All was peaceful as well when it was said and done – we were all “friends” and World War III did not break out!