Athlete Exclusive – Ian Estopare

Youth Weightlifting Ian Estopare Interview - Pic 1

Ian Estopare, age 14, of Overland Park, Kansas recently won his first American Open championship (69 kg/Youth).  Ian has been a competitive weightlifter since age 7 and is coached by Boris Urman.

Q: How did you get started in weightlifting?

My coach, Boris Urman, worked for my father as a strength coach and convinced me to try the sport.

Q: What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I love training and getting stronger and smarter in the sport.

Q: What does your current training routine look like?

I train 6 days a week 2 hours a day all year round. I honestly wish I could train twice a day or maybe 3 times because I enjoy it so much.

Q: Who do you train with?

I don’t have a training partner exactly but I do train with one of my best friends, Dean Scicchitano (recently made 2017 youth world team.). We help each other out and motivate each other to be stronger.

Q: Do you have a good luck charm for competitions?If so, what is it?

Ever since I was young my Dad put 2 socks on each foot, and then he’d tie my shoes before every competition.  We’ve kept up this ritual through the years.

Q: Who do you look up to in the sport?Why?

I have many professional world class weightlifters  that I look up to and strive to become like someday. However, I’d say I mostly look up to my coach Boris. He’s been through it all and is a master in every aspect in the sport.

Q: What qualities do great coaches possess?

Being a great coach takes many things. First, they must have the experience to be able to coach their athlete in the best way. They must never, ever give up on an athlete no matter how old, young, weak. No matter what–a great coach never gives up. A coach must believe that the athlete will succeed and will do anything to help them.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received came from my coach Boris. It was one day before we flew out to nationals 2016 and Boris sat all of us down and said, “An eagle is destined to be great at one thing the moment it hatches out of its egg. It’s your job to find out what kind of eagle you are.” That competition I went 6 for 6 and broke all of my personal records.

Q: What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

Commitment in weightlifting really affects your attitude about other things such as school, family, friends, and other hobbies. You must be committed to be great. And if you don’t love it, don’t do it. My Coach Boris has taught me to listen when people try to help you, and weightlifting has taught me to help others that need help.

Q: Where does your strength come from?

My strength definitely comes from my passion to be great in this sport. I understand that it takes relentless hard work and determination, and I am certainly prepared for the challenges. I know that so many people want me to succeed in what I love, and I want them to all see me succeed.

Laying the Tracks for Success: An Interview with Coach Boris Urman

Youth Weightlifting Boris Urman Interview - Pic 1

Boris Urman, of Miriam, Kansas, has over 50 years of experience coaching weightlifting and athletic conditioning.  Boris trained athletes for the USSR Olympic Team for 14 years.  He moved to the United States 34 years ago, where he has trained numerous athletes in weightlifting.  Boris’s athletes have medaled at the Pan American Games, Junior World Championships, Junior Olympics, Junior & School Age Nationals, and Collegiate Championships.

In this interview, Boris shares some of the secrets of his success, as well as why he loves training youth athletes. 

Q: Why is weightlifting beneficial for young athletes:?

Weightlifting teaches kids discipline and helps improve their focus.  It is especially beneficial for high energy kids.  It gives them a good outlet for their energy and teaches respect for their coach and parents.

Q: What qualities do successful youth weightlifters possess?

A child must love weightlifting; otherwise, he will not succeed.  Also, he must be willing to work hard.  Everything else is teachable.

Q: What is the best background for a youth weightlifter?

Gymnastics.  Definitely gymnastics.  A parent can put their child into gymnastics classes around age 2 or 3.  By age 6, they should be ready for weightlifting.

Q: Is it really necessary to start a child so young in weightlifting?

No.  The beauty of weightlifting is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  However, there is no reason why a child cannot lift weights.  Historically, children have been allowed to do hard labor on farms at early ages.  Weightlifting makes kids strong and useful.

Personally, I prefer teaching young athletes over adults.  Children are more teachable, flexible and coordinated.  They learn the technique faster.

Q: You have built numerous successful weightlifters from scratch.  What is the key to building a good weightlifter?

A weightlifter is like a train.  A coach must spend years laying the railroad tracks, constantly correcting any deviations from perfect technique.  Much time is spent developing muscle memory before heavy weights are added.  Once the tracks are laid and the technique is solid, a coach can add weight to the lifter and a powerful train explodes from the station.

Q: How often do your athletes compete?

I like my athletes to compete about once a month.  Competitions are good for building confidence and composure.  On months that my athletes don’t compete, though, I spend a lot of time on strength and conditioning.

Q: What advice do you have for other coaches of youth weightlifters?

Don’t be afraid to be direct with young athletes.  Children need to know where they stand with you.  Don’t tell them, “Good lift,” when the lift is not good.  Be clear with your expectations, and your lifters will rise to meet them.