Though it’s certainly nothing official, summer is as close to barefoot weightlifting season as it gets. And while we’ve highlighted some of the heaviest (and funniest) barefoot Olympic lifts in a previous post, we definitely left out some notable examples of weightlifters who ditched their shoes whether by choice or design.

In a video that’s been floating around since the early days of YouTube (we’re talking all the way back in 2007, which is basically the Internet Industrial Age), two Bulgarian lifters are seen training barefoot before competition in the International Tournament of Sicily.

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Legend has it that Plamen Boev (lifting at 85kg) and a very young Ivan Markov (lifting as a 77kg) traveled to the competition but had their luggage lost along the trip, meaning they arrived to the venue a couple days ahead of time and without their lifting shoes. While they eventually borrowed and/or recovered their shoes before the competition itself (unclear which), they got in their final training sessions in an outdoor gym with a combo of slide-style sandals and completely bare feet.

Despite the less-than-optimal conditions, Boev and Markov seem to still be having fun, ribbing each other between attempts as they get in a light session. Check out Boev removing his sandals mid-lift around the 1:57 mark (though admittedly with a very light weight overhead). 

Markov, it’s worth noting, put up a pretty impressive career after this video, moving up to 85kg and winning silver at the 2013 and 2014 World Weightlifting Championships; he was also the 2014 European Champion and placed 5th at the 2012 Summer Olympics. His competition best occurred at the 2014 WWC, where he snatched 179kg and clean & jerked 211kg on his way to silver. (Markov also qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but was one of eleven Bulgarians to test positive in the months leading up to that competition.)

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BarBend's Co-Founder and Editorial Director, David is a veteran of the health & fitness industry, with nearly a decade of experience building and running editorial teams in the space. He also serves as a color commentator for both National and International weightlifting competitions, many through USA Weightlifting. David graduated from Harvard University and served for several years as Editorial Director/Chief Content Officer of Greatist.com. In addition to his work in the health & fitness industry, David has been a writer for Fortune and Fortune.com, as well as a contributor to Forbes.com, Slate, and numerous other outlets across the web and in print. He's especially passionate about the intersection of strength sports and quality, professional media coverage — overlapping interests shared by the BarBend editorial team and which drive their content strategy each and every day. David is a proud Kentucky native. In his free time, David is a voiceover actor and can be heard in animated films, independent shorts, music videos, commercials, and podcasts.