Our travel there was relatively easy. When we arrived, we met up with Fernando Reis' parents. This was my first time meeting them and they were so nice. I got to know them better over the course of the whole trip and ate meals together and hung out at the athlete social afterwards together.
|Me with Silvia Reis|
|Me with Silvia Reis and my Coach|
Our first day of training was pretty interesting. Eusaka was the official barbell sponsor of the competition. There was a Eusaka representative there, originally from Greece, named Annastasios. He was awesome. He told us stories about Japan and we learned a lot about the Eusaka Barbell Company. I really like their products. Unfortunately, there wasn't much, if anyone, there to help him. He was just there to be a Eusaka representative. He had set up two platforms and the wood they gave him to use to set up the platforms broke after a few lifts were performed. I forgot my straps and the Finnish lifters let me borrow theirs so I could still lift. Otherwise, the weights could not be dropped. After about 30 minutes of trying to explain to one of the meet organizers that the wood was defective, he was able to set them up more effectively. Kids were recruited to help take the wood out of the training hall. One of the kids actually dropped about 1/4 of the platform on Annastasios' foot. Poor guy. After that he set up 5 platforms and put stickers on all of the weights, bars, and platforms himself. Only to have 3 of them disassembled the next day and the other two the next.
|Me with Maryam Usman in training|
The next day I trained next to Mariam Usman. She is a two time Olympian and the strongest woman in Africa. She is from Nigeria. She's super nice. We talked to her about possibly doing a training camp together. I love her intensity and passion for the sport. She is very comfortable with who she is and what she wants.
|Spectacular light and music show at the meet|
After training we had lunch then we went to watch the Men's 94s and Women's 75s compete as well as the Opening Ceremony. It was spectacular. The man who sang the National Anthem was awesome and we were all pretty pumped up.
Here are videos of the competition:
Snatch and Clean and Jerk
We were informed of the competition while I was still on my vacation. I cut it short about a week so I could be in some sort of shape for this. I had 3 weeks of preparation leading into the meet. Getting ready was both faster and harder than I anticipated. My wrist was giving me a lot of problems and I had only Snatched 100 and Clean and Jerked 120 before I left. We trained a whole day to get there and had an 11 hr time difference. My two days of training before competing went surprisingly well, considering how long we were sitting on the plane.
We wanted to go to this competition for the travel experience. We are planning on attending this meet again in May as well as going to the World Championships in Kazakhstan in 2014. We also wanted to make friendships with people and network so we can have opportunities to get better in the future. We talked to Mariam about a training camp as I mentioned earlier, and to Tatiana Kashirinia about visiting Russia again for a camp.
The athletes who competed at the Olympics: Mariam, Tatiana, and I all took a month off after the Games and our totals dropped. Tatiana's by 52 kgs, Mariam's by 28 kgs, and mine by 20 kgs. Tatiana's best training lifts are a 160 kgs Snatch, 190 kgs Clean and Jerk, 230 kgs Front Squat and a 270 kgs Back Squat. What an Animal! That's stronger than some 105+ men I know. When we asked her about training for the next four years, she jokingly gestured hanging herself.
We had 3 Olympians as well as other athletes who are top 20 top 15 level lifters in the world. My weight class had high caliber lifters. Being able to compete against these girls is good international experience. Fighting for medals, performing in front of a crowd, and dealing with the lights, cameras, and music is all good preparation for the Olympic Games. It's also good preparation for the coaches who attended as well.
|With super star lifters like Tatiana Kashirinia and Maryam Usman|
While warming up for the snatch, I missed a few attempts in the back from over pulling the bar. Considering how my training went and the amount of travel I had, I was feeling particularly well that day. Our original goal was to open with 100 but I told my coach, "I'll open with 105 if you need me to." We weren't planning on vying for a medal but, if we were close, we'd push it. We just took it as a heavy training day and focused on making as many competition lifts as possible. I ended up opening with 105, missing 108 behind, then coming back to make 110 on my third attempt. I was feeling pretty good in my clean and jerks as well. We had originally planned opening with 120. We opened with 125, went to 130, then made 135. I lifted 25 more kilos than I had in training. I guess I am a competition lifter afterall! I took 5th place and went to drug testing.
|getting pulled for testing while the competition is still going on|
|The weights are still on my bar that's how quickly they came.|
|Having a good laugh at how I always seem to get picked as a "random"|
|With the Thai lifter and our coaches|
|Me and Joe during the social|
During the social we got to hang out with the athletes, coaches, and sport officials. My coach enjoyed asking questions and meeting new people. I mostly hung out with the Nigerians and Ugandans but got to meet new people as well. Talked with a group of people. One born in the US, one born in Russia but living in the US, and the other was one of the official people from Russia. He was telling me how he was cheering for me and is supportive of me. To end the conversation, he kissed my hand. :o Toward the end of the evening, I got asked to dance by the Vice President of the Russian Weightlifting Federation. He spoke English well and he asked me about my lifting and about how the USA Weightlifting is doing. When we were done, he kissed my hand too! Take notes American boys!
After I danced, I went over to be with my coach who was speaking with on of the Russian coaches, After a bit, David Rigert came over and we began to chat with him. In case you don't know who he is, he is currently the National Coach for Russia. He held 68 world records and was an Olympic and World Champion. He told me I had good technique for a super. It reminded him of technique from the 70s. Not quite sure if that's a good thing, so I will take it as a yes. haha. He said I can keep the smile on my face but have more aggression in my belly. He recommend box jumps and speed work to make me faster. He also recommended that I try 3X a day training.
|Joe with David Rigert|
My coach was very excited the next day that he got compliments on my skills as an athlete which is also a reflection on his coaching. He was excited to be able to ask questions and learn more. We both got very excited and motivated and can't wait to get back into training and possibly try 3X a day training.
Here are some pictures from around the city of St. Petersberg:
We loved our opportunity and are thankful that USAW and the Russian Weightlifting Federation made this possible for us. We hope to attend this meet again next year. The federation did a good job hosting the meet. We had nice accommodations, lifted well, and were entertained. It was quite a week. After a long, arduous trip back to the US, I got a little day off and it's back to the grind. We want to get into super shape and kick 2013's butt!