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Stone Lifting

Stone Lifting

Care to know who’s the strongest man in the world? Most likely, he’s the one who can lift over 100kg of stone along with some stone lifting techniques. Don’t get surprised if strong men get to joggle stones over their shoulders. More often than not, you get to see these impressive tricks in the stone lifting sports activity.

Stone lifting happens to be a popular rural sport in the Basque country. The traditional sport, locally known as “harri jasoketa,” was inspired by Basque root words “harri” and “jaso” which literally mean “stone” and “to lift” respectively. Harri jasoketa, like any local Basque sport, was practiced by men and women in the community.

Harri jasoketa might be renowned as one of the oldest sports in the world, but the same sport was recognized for having hardly any recorded history. For a couple of centuries, stone lifting activity observed no standard rules until the 20th century. Bittor Zabala, a remarkable stone lifter of his generation, initiated the standardization of the shapes, sizes, and weights of stones used in the sports activity.  

As a sports activity, stone lifting employs simple rules and regulations. Stone lifters, facing each other, are supposed to elevate the stone over their shoulders and drop the same on the pad placed before them. Each stone lifter, also known as harrijasotzaile, stands next to sport jurors that are likely to record the time and the manner of lifting the stone.

Stone lifters are expected to lift stones of varying shapes, sizes, and weights. Harri jasoketa is characterized by three categories dependent on stone attributes such as zilindroa (cylinder stone weighing 100-125kg), laukizuzena (rectangular stone weighing 125-212.5kg), kuboa (cube weighing 125-212.5kg), and biribila (round 112.5-125kg). Whichever type of stone is used, harrijasotzailes are likely to observe uniform stone lifting procedures.

Natural stones may be used occasionally in stone lifting events. Organizers, nonetheless, prefer the use of harri beltza (black stone) in the competition. Such a rare stone is described as the dark granite commonly quarried in Gipuzkoa. Dark granites, more often than not, are found in some quarrying sites based in the towns of Zumarraga, as well as, Lastur.

Since stone lifting activity can be tough, stone lifters commonly undergo rigorous training activity. Most likely, the harrijasotzaile shall train for endurance, power, speed, and strength. Training schedule usually contains a variety of workout sessions aimed at improving the athletic performance of the stone lifter.

Along the training activity, stone lifters are likely to incorporate stone loading safety, too. Lifting over 100kg of stones can lead to serious physical injury in case of a wrongful move. Heavy stones are likely to crush anything along their way, the moment they slip onto your hands. As much as possible, harrijasotzailes need to be cautious whenever they’ll miss or accept a lift.  

There are many prestigious stone lifters in sports history. Miel Saralegi, for instance, has been a remarkable athletic personality to date for lifting the heaviest stone weighing 329kg. Saralegi, in particular, snatched the record from Iñaki Perurena who previously held the record for lifting 322kg.

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