The Makings of an Olympic Champion

by Al Myers

A picture of Dr. Wright (left) and Olympic coach Bob Hoffman (right) that was included in his book.

NOW that’s a book title that will grab your attention!!  I have a huge bookshelf in my office, full of all kinds of books.  Some I’ve read several times, and some I have never even opened a page of.   I love these early summer nights in Kansas this time of the year.  The temperature stays in the low 70s, and the bugs aren’t in quantities that they are trying to devour you yet.  There’s nothing better than to grab a good book and relax in a comfortable chair on the deck for the evening.  I usually  have the BIG GREEN EGG smoking some delicious piece of redmeat in the background as I just sit back, smell the mouth watering aroma,  and relax! Now that’s the good life – especially if you had got a good workout in beforehand.

The book, "The Makings of an Olympic Champion", by Russell Wright D.O.

Well, this book on my bookshelf caught my attention the other night.  I had never read it before, but for some reason, it looked right for the reading.  What caught my attention was that the book, “The Makings of an Olympic Champion”, was written by Russell Wright, DO.  His name “rang a bell” inside my ole noggin.  I must have received this book at some point from Thom, because I had remembered Thom writing a website story about Dr. Wright some time back.  I had to do some website research (YES THAT CAN BE DONE WITH THE SEARCH FUNCTION AT THE TOP RIGHT CORNER!), and sure enough, Thom had written a lengthy blog covering the life of Dr. Russell Wright. I would recommend you reread Thom’s story: http://www.usawa.com/dr-russell-wright/ I won’t go into detail on Dr. Wright’s life history, as Thom covered that quite well in his story.

Dr. Wright was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He is regarded as one of the early sports-specific doctors.  He also had a special interest in weightlifting.  In his book, he talks in detail about his involvement with such notable weightlifters such as Tommy Kono, Norbert Schemansky, Bob Bednarski,  Bob Hoffman, and others.  “The Making of an Olympic Champion” was published in 1976.  My copy is even signed by Dr. Wright on the front page!  Lots of the information in the book is “dated”, and several of the ideas that he discussed have since been disproved by science. But none the less,  it contains a wealth of insight into the mind of a brilliant medical professional who’s main goal was to improve athletic ability through the use of Osteopathic Medicine.  I especially liked his chapter centered around the importance of stretching and flexibility as it applied to a trained weightlifter.   He was also very much against the use of anabolic steroids in strength sports, which I applaud.  He spent much time demeaning their use, and summed up his feelings with this paragraph that gets right to the point, which I think is worthy to repeat here in closing.

You get an athlete who destroys himself with anabolic steroids.  He may become a great champion with the use of the drugs, and then he wears a peanut shell and a rubber band for a jockstrap the rest of his life because his testicles are atrophied.  I don’t consider it worth it.  You’re an athlete only a few years, but you’ve got to be a man a long time. – from Dr. Wright’s book  “The Makings of an Olympic Champion”

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