Boris Elesin, a 23-year-old, Moscow-born Olympic weightlifter, was always destined for a career in sport. With a dad who represented Armenia in weightlifting at the 1996 Athens Olympics, and a Mum who won gold for Russia at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in high jump, Boris has sport in his veins.
When asked what he thought of his mum, Yelena, winning gold in 2000, he told The Weightlifting Platform, “I was back home in Armenia with my grandparents, outside playing with some baby chickens, when my grandparents run out to tell me the news.” Boris was so young at the time, he didn’t really understand what was going on. In time, he grew to appreciate the enormity of the feat.
Moving from Armenia to Melbourne after the Sydney Olympics at five years old, Boris tried a range of sports. “I started out with a bit of track and field, soccer and basketball when I was in primary school and then tried out AFL for a few years. One year, when I was about 14 they [the footy club] didn’t have enough kids to form a team so the team got dismantled,” said Boris.
After being let down by his teammates (or lack thereof) he decided to give individual sports a go. His dad, Aghvan, suggested weightlifting. “Why not? The worst thing that could happen is I grow some muscles,” young Boris joked.
After eight months of training, Boris attempted his first Olympic weightlifting competition as an under 15, weighing about 45 kilos. He snatched 35kg at that comp and hit 45kg in the clean & jerk, clinching victory overall. From there, he progressed to the Australian Nationals that same year, where he took home a bronze medal.
At 15 years old, Boris put on the Green and Gold for the first time competing at the Youth Oceania Championships. He secured a bronze with a 123kg total in the 56kg weight category. That was eight years ago. Since then, Boris has competed in multiple international competitions, increasing his total by nearly 180kg.
Boris’ biggest achievement to date is competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. But qualifying through the Australian team trials competition was tough. Boris now sat in the 85kg class, and this is by far the most stacked division in the men’s field. It meant beating the likes of Dan Katz, Tory Hawkins, Liam Larkins and many other serious competitors.
There was a time when even making it to the qualifying stage for the Commonwealth Games seemed unlikely. Boris had been battling a wrist injury for years. Two years prior to the games, his doctors recommended that he retire from weightlifting completely. But Boris didn’t take this advice. He pushed on. He couldn’t even conceive of the idea of quitting. He is strong-willed and driven, almost to a fault. He’s still battling that wrist injury today. But Boris will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Which is just as well, because 2019 will be a very important, very challenging year for this young lifter.
Boris has already competed at the 2019 Victorian State Championships, where he qualified for the Pacific Games alongside fellow Victorian lifter Seen Lee. Boris is hoping this is his chance to qualify for Senior World Champs for the first time, which will be held in Thailand later this year. He will need an enormous 318kg total, but considering he just nailed a 145kg snatch in training recently, there’s no reason why he can’t make it.
The Pacfic Games is a great stepping stone for the looming Olympic Games. We asked Boris what he thought about qualifying for the Olympics.
“I actually don’t know what this Olympic qualifying stuff is. I haven’t even looked into it. I don’t even know what’s going on,” he replied. “I just pretty much go lift as much as I can.”
Which just goes to show, when sport is basically in you blood, you don’t need to think — you just get it done.
Despite being an elite weightlifter, Boris still has to find work outside his 9-10 training sessions a week in order to pay the bills. If any sponsors out there are looking to be represented well on the national and international stage, please contact Boris to help him out! Find Boris at @boriselesin on Instagram
We would like to wish Boris well leading into the Pacific Games in Samoa this month. To keep up to date with his performance, along with other Victorian lifters competing in Samoa, follow The Weightlifting Platform on our social media channels.