From The Desk Of Clarence Bass
Frank Spellman, America's Oldest Olympic Gold Medal Lifter, Passes at 94
Shapes Carl Miller’s Career
Frank Spellman introduced Carl Miller to Olympic weightlifting at 13. I only saw Spellman lift once—in a World Championship Trials in California in the late ‘50s—but Carl has been talking about him non-stop since moving to New Mexico in the late ‘60s after his stint in the Peace Corps.
Spellman won a Gold Medal in weightlifting at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Lifting in the 165 pound class, he had a perfect day making all nine lifts: 245, 253 and 259 in the military press—248, 259 and 264 in the snatch—and 314, 330 and 336 in the clean and jerk. His total was an Olympic record. (He was 25.)
“I had goosebumps all over. It was very, very exciting,” he told USA Weightlifting in a 2012 interview. “It was one of those days that when everything seems to go right. No matter what I tried, it worked. That was extremely a wonderful thing. I’m a flag waver, and I wanted the United States to win and I was willing to try my utmost in making sure I made the most out of every lift. As it turned out, I was very fortunate. I had one of those days that every athlete wishes for."
USA Weightlifting posted "Remembering Frank Spellman" after his death with intriguing aspects of his youth and later years: http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Weightlifting/Features/2017/January/12/Remembering-Frank-Spellman
For many more details and photos throughout his lifespan, Google “Frank Spellman weightlifter.”
Now, I’d like to tell you about a side of Frank you’re not likely to hear about anywhere else—His long relationship with Carl Miller. Most of it is in Carl’s voice.
What Carl doesn’t mention is that his early years with Frank provided the foundation for him to become United States Weightlifting Coaching Coordinator—and travel the world conducting seminars and conferring with legendary exercise scientists such as endocrinologist Hans Selye, who first described the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Selye and Bulgarian weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev, whose lifters won world championships by training up to three times a day.
Carl also joined with Tommy Kono to coach the U. S. weightlifting team at the Montreal Olympics.
Impressive as this is, Carl’s most lasting achievement is the founding in 1982 of Carl & Sandra’s Gym in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a fitness center for all ages (9 to 90) built around the mechanics of the Olympic lifts. The gym’s most basic concept is a workout customized for each client and changed by Carl every six weeks. Members who joined in the first few weeks were still there decades later.
Frank Spellman hatched a weight training phenomenon for the ages in Carl Miller. Thank goodness for both of them.
For another fact-filled article done when Frank was 93 about his early years and more:
February 1, 2017
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