RECORD ROPE SKIPPER
Early in 1987, Frank was dignosed as having multiple sclerosis-.in this case,
affecting the optic nerve. Coincidentally, his rope skipping record had just been
broken. Oliveri hadn't planned on attending the charity events in Denver. But it
was then that he decided to step up the pressure.
OLIVERI: Certainly, the first couple of weeks or so, it caused a lot of depression..
a lot of anguish. But I worked through that.
Which meant a workout of up to three or four hours a day, including 30 thousand rope
turns along with 200 situps and a hundred pull-ups daily. Even with this preparation,
Frank says he wasn't in better shape than most of the 37 contestants in Denver. What
meant more in winning was strategy, psychology and utilizing the five minute per hour
rest peiod to his advantage.
OLIVERI: There's a lot of great eye contact. And there's also a lot of changing pace,
speeding up the pace, slowing down the pace. If you're good enough with the rope you can
actually imitate a slow motion type of movement which totally will mess up another
competitor's pace. The better competitors would move around with their rope as they were
skipping and literally circle around some of the other competitors that they were trying
to get to quit.
The third hour is comparable to "the wall" in a marathon running race. In that hour
the 60 minute non-stop record is set. And Frank broke his own personal best by around 40
turns, to 10,582.
OLIVERI: The third hour was the time that the top five or six competitors were determined
to blow out the rest of the competition. So what we did at that point is simply stepped up
the pace to such a degree that many of the other guys just simply.. fatigued.
His style is one of one foot after another- similar to that of a boxer in training-
and hardly ever with both feet which can tighten up the muscles and cause shin splints.
With a "second" alongside to help with water, chalk or new ropes, Frank has found that
listening some of his favorite operas makes the time pass quickly.
OLIVERI: An often used term "mind over matter". I simply try to remove myself mentally
from the fact that I am rope skipping altogether. I'll put on music that really relaxes
me, music that motivates me. Within, or during the time that the music is playing, I
visualize the scenery. I'm very familiar with operas for instance. So I will visualize
the scenery behind a particulair opera.
In recapturing king of the hill, Frank had a lot of help from the previous record
holder, Edwin Langerwich who held on up to the old record and cheered on Oliveri til the
end. Around ten minutes before he quit, Frank's arch of his left foot began to swell up
from the pounding and he began to hop solely on the right foot.
OLIVERI: And at that point the entire right side of the calf as well as my right toe not
only cramped up but I found out later I had a hair line fracture in my right toe. So at
that point, I just dropped. I could not put any more weight on that foot and bouncing on
Properly done, Frank believes a 24-hour consecutive skip could be accomplished- with
the proper training, pace and caution but he's retiured from competion now. He's been
conducting wrestling camps for nearly 20 years in the area. And is often invited to
various area schools for wrestling clinics. He is still active on a regular basis with the
local Heart Association for demonstrations and fund raisers. Frank uses his lunch period
at work each day for a 45-minute workout- a necessity now he says, possibly stalling any
growth of his eye illness by producing chemicals in the body to combat the disease. His
vision sometimes is blurred and he gets headaches frequently. Still the net result of
getting MS has caused him to work even harder.
OLIVERI: You know what they say: if there's Mt. Everest then people want to climb it. And
I guess I decided to convince myself that there really wasn't that much wrong with me and
to.. to give not only a message but also some hope to other people that are bothered by
some ailments or illnesses and feel at times like throwing in the towel.. I wanted to
prove to myself and also to help others.. and give them a mesaage that you can continue
doing most of what you want to do if your will power and your heart is still there.
Frank says there are far too many positive parts of life to dwell on the negative.
He believes just about everyone would react the way that he did- and not give up.
Bill Flynn, WXXI 1370