Weightlifting stalwart remembers Guyana's Olympics debut

by Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
August 5, 2000

Weightlifting these days would not be considered one of the marque sports in Guyana.

For the upcoming Sydney Olympic Games, athletics, boxing, cycling and squash were the only sports in contention for qualification to make up Guyana's team.

But there were times when weightlifting brought Guyana much glory in international competition and one of the pioneers was Alfonso Correira.

The former Kingsrow club lifter was a member of the first Guyana team to compete at the Olympics. The year was 1948 and weightlifting provided two members of a five-man team which participated in the London Games.

At the time Correira was the national featherweight champion and because he was one of the outstanding sportsmen at the time, he clinched a vital place in the small continent the country could have afforded on its Olympics debut.

Although he did not win a medal, Correira benefitted from the experience and went on to become one of Guyana's all time best weightlifters.

For his accomplishments in the sport and his participation in Guyana's first Olympics team, Correira was honoured along with a number of other Guyanese Olympians at a recent function in Toronto Canada. The occasion was a Guyana Pavilion presentation which also featured cultural performances by Guyanese artistes. Among the other Olympians honoured were athlete George De Peana and cyclists Eon D'Ornellas and Aubrey Bryce.

But it was Correira who stole the limelight as apart from his accomplishments, he is the only one of the five Olympians alive from the 1948 team.

Correira remembers the highly competitive nature of the sport in Guyana those days when he was good enough to be ranked among the best in the British Empire.

His personal best 645 pounds at the time was achieved at the trials, but because he was not equipped with the proper gear for the cold conditions in the long wait between lifts in a 28-man field, Correira said he could not give of his best at the Olympics.

But two weeks later he was more accustomed to the conditions and won a bronze medal at the British Empire Games in London.

Injury robbed him of another medal opportunity at the 1952 Games when he was at his peak and was defeating the middleweights while lifting at his accustomed featherweight, in Guyana.

His accomplishments were as a result of rigorous training and a heavy diet. His routine included daily 14-mile walks from Georgetown to Plaisance and back and meals of raw eggs, lots of milk and steak.

Now well into his 70's Correira is fit enough to make regular trips between his homes in Toronto and Georgetown and he is disappointed weightlifting no longer brings Guyana glory. But he feels the sport can be restored to its once high status once more if people take it seriously.

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