On the Bulgarian’s second attempt he got the clean but failed to push up the bar.
Joe thought he would get it up on the third attempt but he slipped on the clean part of the discipline and that was him out of the competition. Joe now had at least a silver medal. But Joe hadn’t come for second prizes he’d come for the big one, the ultimate to be crowned the World Champion, the Olympic Champion and the gold medal winner.
Alekeyev knew he was in the presence of greatness and he had to pull out a big lift to go into the lead. He went for it; 235kg; 518.086 pounds.
He looked up for it as he closed his eyes in mental preparation then walked towards the bar; this lift would equal his best lift for the clean and Jerk that won him Gold in Munich four years ago. The thirty two year old was a legend in the weight lifting world and if any one could rise to a challenge thin he could. Joe looked on as Alekeyev approached the bar and set himself. He grunted as he gripped the bar and gritted his teeth. He yelled as he raised the bar to his shoulders. The crowd cheered him on as he tried to push the bar up but failed; he dropped the bar then smacked his hands together in frustration.
He now had two minutes to return to the stage for his second attempt.
Alekeyev came into the arena again for his second attempt. Beads of sweat were forming on his brow and he wiped them away. He was quicker this time he got down and cleaned the bar then pushed up after three seconds and held it.
Joe applauded the champion as did everyone in the arena.
The bar had been firmly set and Joe knew it. He would now have to lift 235 kg to force the big Russian to lift a new world record or he would lose the gold.
There wasn’t a person in North Shields not watching this event the pubs and clubs had the television on. The tension was high and expectations even higher.
Bella sat with her sister Agnes with her hands in her mouth and could barely watch; Joe’s parents said a silent prayer.
Joe thought about all those nights in the gym all of his friends and family and what his father had said to him about being a Shieldsman and that he was proud of him win or lose. Then he thought about Bella; he could see her face, she was urging him on. Come on now Joe you can do this he heard her say as he picked up the bar in front of him. Everything was a blur in front of him as he raised the bar to his massive shoulders. Bella cried out now Joe! and the bar sailed up into the air and he held it.
He got the three white lights and dropped the bar.
Everyone was going wild at home. They were standing up and applauding in the arena and even Alekeyev clapped his hands.
To win Alekeyev would have to break the world record that had now been equalled by Joe Kimber.