Pound for pound, Olympic weightlifters have a greater level of speed-strength than any other class of athletes in all of sport. This fact was made very clear during a massive scientific expedition carried out on the athletes at the Mexico City Olympics in 1964. Sports scientists found that Olympic lifters were able to both vertical jump higher than any class of athletes (including the high jumpers), and run a 25 yard dash faster than any class of athletes (including the sprinters).
It seems that every so often this myth gets revived. It is almost of the stature of an urban myth. It is a myth! Stop and think about this logically, what athlete in their right mind would allow themselves to be tested like this at the Olympic games? Second the Mexico City Olympics were in 1968 not 1964. Third to my knowledge the only study on the athletes at an Olympic games aside from biomechanical analysis of competition and some psychological studies was a somatatype study of athletes at the 1964 games. I think the origin of this actually was an Olympic Development camp for high jumpers and shot putters held at Indiana University in the late 1970’s. Everyone was amazed that the shot putters had higher vertical jumps (standing sergeants jump) than the high jumpers. Well da! It reflects specificity of training not who is more powerful. High jumpers have to train to convert horizontal velocity into vertical velocity off of one foot. Sure Olympic weight lifters can generate tremendous power but it is specific to the plane and pattern of movement that they compete in. Let’s try to stop these inane comparisons and think about what we have to do to train athletes to be better at their sports. Remember create athletes’ that are adaptable not adapted. The goal of training is to be the best you can be in your competitive environment not the weight room. It must transfer.