This was my first time at a competition, as the coach. This happened about a month ago, I was excited and anxious all at the same time. The competition in question was the Big Lift. A little over view into this competition. It is an olympic weightlifting competition that is ran by British weightlifting. Ed Halstead (coach to olympic lifter Rebekah Tiler) was judging todays competition.

  1. Our athlete from the weightlifting club, we (me and Alex Meighan) have co founded is competing.
  2. Omar is 15 years old
  3. He somehow managed to accidentally enter into the seniors against adults when he should have been in the youths.
  4. He was put into a higher weight category than planned. We arrived there ready for the weigh in just before 10am.

Omar hadn’t eaten breakfast or had water as his weight fluctuates regularly just like most teenagers (we had advised otherwise but ultimately the decision was his). After waiting anxiously for the weigh in Omar had weighed in just over a kg of where he wanted to be and was subsequently placed into the 85kg category.

Despite this he remained focused and we looked at the opening weights in this new category. We had gone for a 85kg (later increased to 90kg) clean and jerk and a 60kg (later increased to 65kg) snatch with a plan to increase each by 5 kg at a time. After watching patiently as the women lifted first Omar had some food and started to get warmed up behind the spectators then we were allowed to go to the warm up area. Once in the warm up area there were 6 portable platforms with barbells and plates stacked all around the room. There was a screen behind the curtain highlighting the next lifter and their achieved lifts. Chalk being passed around, some were having sniffing salts when they were coming back from big lifts. Between lift attempts you get 2 minutes and you get 3 attempts at each lift. If you want to give yourself time there is a way to give yourself more, this would mean upping the opening weight and subsequently the following weights. If you don’t announce the following weights you want to increase they will automatically add 1kg to the next attempt.

For us, as other athletes started to lift and change their opening weights or some even missing their weights, this gave a shot of confidence to Omar on the day and he decided to increase his opening lift by 5kg on the snatch. He also ended up doing this on the Clean and jerk. This meant that between attempts I had to let the judge know his following attempt numbers (sometimes my timing was a little last minute). It was fun and great to see other lifters playing this mental game with themselves and with others… and it worked for most. Some of the other athletes were showing signs of self doubt, worried looks on their faces and their coaches having to pat them on the back and pep talk them. But Omar was calm and focussed. We went in and made his attempts. He ended up with more time between attempts due to upping the weight and therefore the order.

Some lifters got too confident ended up missing opening and 2nd attempts. 

Another note there were a few athletes there without coaches. One of which was sharing the warm up platform with us so It ended up with me filming his lifts, authorising increases in his openers, going through extra mobility work as he was injured and we both encouraged and supported him as if he was representing our club.

I loved the atmosphere and I loved the friendly rivalry. As the competition came to a close and those who had lifted earlier came in with food from a local takeaway or coffee’s, everyone shook hands and congratulated and praised each other.

Result for Omar: he came 2nd in his weight category despite being the lightest in this category and having being moved up and being 15 years old. Omars score overall was 95kg Clean and Jerk (after feeling dizzy, most likely due to fasting and dehydration). And 75kg on the snatch.

It makes me so happy to be involved in coaching sport. I never thought in a million years i’d ever want to but after today when I have the time to commit to competing and slightly less projects on the go, I am considering it for myself.

I feel its important for me to understand the psychological aspect of being on that platform hearing the buzzer go and waiting for the signal of a good lift… So keep an eye out.

A FEW NOTES FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T COMPETED BEFORE:

  •  Its a numbers game and Be ready to change the opening weights.
  • You can up your weights but you can’t lower them. Its your decision
  • Whether to put your highest hope or your safe number when entering – Some thrive on the challenge other overwhelm and get a false sense of security, that on the day their body just doesn’t respond the same way their mind wants.
  • Skipping breakfast and water to make the weight category isn’t always the answer, but for some it works.
  •  Bring extra water and food (this place didn’t have the facilities).
  • Omar had done a youth competition before at half of the weight he was lifting this time so whilst I was supporting him, I was also learning from him on that day.

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