by Tommy Kono

At the 1971 World Championships Belgium's challenger to the superheavyweight title, Serge Reding, got off to a flying start with a world record Press of 502 1/2 lbs but an old arm injury flared up and a "shot" in the wrong spot rendered his right arm useless so he could not continue in the competition.

A month and a half later when his arm had regained its full strength and he was able to train normally, an international match was arranged against Alexeev in Brussels, the hometown of Reding. The packed audience was in for a disappoint ment when the "supposedly sick" Russian champion made only a token showing by Pressing 308 lbs. Reding was more than disappointed for he was in grand shape to take on Alexeev. Yet, even with the competitive "fire" gone, Serge tried to exceed all of Alexeev's world records ... and almost succeeded in doing just that.

At the 1972 European Championships an injury to his right calf prevented him from performing well even though he was in good shape prior to the injury.

Reding seemed to be beseiged by bad luck but I thought for certain that in the Munich Olympics, with careful planning from his coach, that the balance would swing over to the other side and he would come up with some terrific lifts, surprising everyone.

With the above thought in mind, months before the Olympic Games, I decided to interview Reding but circumstances prevented the Belgian lifter and myself from getting together and so I arranged a list of questions for his coach and friend Andre DuPont since we had occasion to see each other more often.

The following is an interview with the Belgian national coach DuPont about his lifter Serge Reding prior to the 1972 European Championships.

TK--Andre, could you give us a brief background of Reding's early childhood?

AD--He was born December 23, 1941 in a neighborhood of Brussels called Auderghem, but he spent most of his childhood in the Belgian Andrennes. He is an only child and his parents are not exceptionally big or strong. In fact, they are on the thin side. When he was young he wasn't active in sports but loved taking walks in the woods. When he returned to Brussels at 17 years of age he took up gymnastics.

TK--When, why and how did he get started in weightlifting and could you give us some of his early results?

AD--He turned to weight training in February, 1959 because he was already weighing 198 lbs. at 5'7" and his gymnastic coach thought his big legs were not suited for Olympic-type gymnastic training. When he first started training his approximate lifts were 132 lbs. Press, 121 Ibs. Snatch and 154 lbs. Jerk. After 3 months training under Mr. Wittenbol, his first coach in weightlifting, he entered his first competition and he made a total of 507 lbs. with 154, 154, and 198. From then on he progressed as follows:
1959--595 (270 kg.)
1960--854 (387% kg.)
1961--military service
1962--898 (407% kg.)
1963--970 (440 kg.)
1964--1069 (485 kg.)
1965--1146 (520 kg.)
1966--1157 (525 kg.)
1967--1129 (512 kg. He stopped training for 4 months.)
1968--1223 (555 kg.)
1969--1257 (570 kg.)
1970--1323 (600 kg.)
1971--1289 (585 kg.)
1972--1367 (620 kg.)

TK--Serge is not tall but with his huge girth which is all in wonderful proportion he looks so impressive. I often marvel at the way he continues to add more muscles on his frame each year without getting sloppy looking or fat. What are his measurements?

AD--He stands 5'8" and at the bodyweight of 303 lbs he has the following measurements:
Chest, normal--56''
Arms; straight 18 1/4", flexed-- 20 1/2"
measurement around his shoulders--65"
Hat size-- 7 1/2
Shoe size--8 1/2 (European size 43).

TK--What are his best Olympic lifts made officially and in training?

AD--Officially he has made the following lifts in one contest or another: Press-502 lbs.. Snatch --385 lbs., and Jerk--500 lbs. His best train ing lifts are: 485, 374 and 485 which shows that he is a competition lifter and not a "gym" (training) lifter. (Note: these training lifts were made prior to June, 1972).

TK--I'm curious about his strength in some of the basic exercises for singles and for 3 repetitions. What information can you give us in regard to his records in the squats and other supplementary exercises?

AD--His best Front Squat for a single is 617 lbs. and 573 lbs. for three repetitions. He`s done 705 for one repetition and 617 for triples in the regular squats. On a 45 degree incline he has Pressed 396 lbs. for a single and for 3 reps, 363 lbs. Although he doesn't work on the Bench Press nor the Dead Lifts he has done 463 lbs. on the Bench and 771 lbs. on the Dead Lift.

TK--The foregoing questions were all in the line of weightlifting but can you give us some information about his general physical condition as regards stamina. endurance, etc. and other athletic ability?

AD--Reding has a normal pulse rate of 78 beats per minute and his blood pressure reading is 130 over 90. His best record in the standing broad jump is 9'5" and high jump 4'11" which is performed by taking 3 steps and taking off on both feet. During his general preparation program he runs cross-country once or twice a week but he prefers sprints over long distance running. His record in the 100 meters sprint is 13 seconds.

TK--What is his daily routine and does he have a profession?

AD--His day starts with his waking up at 7:30 and he works from 9 to 4 at the National Library as a Librarian. Then his training starts at 6 p.m. and lasts between 2 to 3 hours. He goes to bed about 10:30 p.m.

TK--What about his diet?

AD--He eats 5 times a day with no special diet aside from powdered protein supplement which he takes with his breakfast.

TK--Andre, besides being a good personal friend of Reding's, you've been his coach for a number of years and help him to plan his training program. Can you generalize his yearly training plan?

AD--His yearly training plan is in two periods and the first period is broken down into three stages:
I. General Preparation --2 1/2 mos.
II, Specific Preparation --1 1/2 mos.
III. Competition Preparation--3 1/2 mos.
The second period is shorter but still contains the 3 stages:
I. General Preparation --3 weeks
II. Specific Preparation --3 weeks
III. Competition Preparation--3 weeks
After these periods comes one month of "active" rest.

TK--Could you explain the general concept of the weekly training plan and in what areas he concentrates most?

AD--Serge trains 5 to 6 times a week with approximately 3 heavy days where he trains about 3 hours per training session and 3 light training days which last from 1 1/2 to 2 hours per session. During the General Preparation period concentration is on developing more basic power rather than technique. During the Specific Preparation period the concentration is still on Power as compared to technique, but of a more explosive type power training. Naturally during the competition period more emphasis is placed on technique while retaining the power developed from the previous stage.

TK--Does he have a favorite exercise or lift which he prefers to practice over any other?

AD--He likes the Squat exercise a lot. On the three Olympic lifts he has no special preference since switching over from the split style to the squat style Snatch. In the past his Snatch was the poor lift so he spent a lot of time on this exercise but after mastering the squat style Snatch he works on all three Olympic lifts with equal enthusiasm.

TK-How often does Reding take massage and sauna baths and can you comment on the isometric movements which I saw him practice before the World Championships in Lima, Peru?

AD--Serge doesn't like massage and never takes sauna baths. In regards to the isometric movement, he does only one pull movement isometrically and this is performed only during the competition preparation stage.

TK--What does he do on his spare time? Does he have a hobby?

AD--He likes to read and as a form of relaxation he likes to see movies.

TK--Last year while in Brussels Alexeev told Oscar State and me that he believed that Reding can total 1487 lbs. (675 kg.), with 529 (240 kg.). 407(185 kg.), and 551 lbs. (250 kg.) in Munich for the Olympics. When Oscar and I asked Alexeev what he would do at the Olympics, he replied, "Oh, a little more." What do you and Reding think about his comment?

AD--Serge hopes to be the best. He and I think that he can total 1487 but not in Munich for it is too early for such a total. We don't think that Alexeev can do so much.

TK-- Does Reding intend to continue in weightlifting competition after the '72 Olympics? What are his plans afterwards?

AD--If he does well in Munich he intends to continue lifting. In the other case, he doesn't know. His eventual plan is to open a sporting equipment shop.

The road to an Olympic title can be an extremely rough one and for this Belgian superman it proved to be even more so. He had made personal records of 507 lbs. Press, 396 lbs. Snatch, and 507 lbs. Jerk in Belgium before coming to Munich which proved he was in the best shape of his life ... and free of injuries!

In the Messegelande training hall in the Bavarian capital I witnessed Reding's effortless Clean of 484 lbs. and without the slightest knee kick pressed it aloft even easier than his clean! He snatched 374 lbs. and Jerked 507 lbs. without any difficulties during his tapering down sessions. He was truly in great shape and ready for the big battle against Alexeev, Patera and Mang!

Then, during the Olympics, on his final warm-up lift backstage just before his first attempt Press, in shouldering the 463 lbs. for his Press something freakish occurred. The 55 lbs. (25 kg.) plates slid off one end of the collarless bar when the bar sagged on impact with his chest, throwing the uneven load to his opposite wrist causing searing pain in his left wrist! As he was the next lifter on the platform it was much too late for a doctor on duty to do anything for him.

Reding went out gallantly to start with a 495 lbs. Press which was loaded on the bar but he failed to clean the weight. In spite of great pain he managed to clean the next attempt but the pain was too intense when he tried to Press the weight.

All those months of sacrifice and careful planning had ended without a lift even being made in the Olympic Games.

What lifts could this Belgium superman have made had he not suffered these injuries! That we'll never know but if he continues to train I am positive that Alexeev will not be able to remain so supreme.

I personally hope that he will continue to train hard and compete for no great champion ever had a smooth climb to the top. I'm equally positive that the pendulum for Reding will swing over to his side if he perseveres.