Anyone that knows us knows that we don't take ourselves very seriously and like to have a lot of fun but the underlying fact is that although we are having fun we are working our asses off at the same time! We started programming for the NI weightlifting autumn championship and some Varangians were following it and made some awesome strength gains, coming closer to the time it was Natalie and Jenni that decided to go for the full tilt and get themselves out there against other competitors to experience that atmosphere of everyone looking at no one else but you... Not as easy as it sounds!
So! Skipping forward to after all the hard work was done (we're not gonna give away all our secrets) two weeks before the event we held a mock session in which we only gave them the attempts of the lifts that they would be getting on the day and judged them very strictly on form, there was no music on and they had to warm themselves up and come up to the platform when called, sounds silly but a mock test can actually be more nerve racking than the real thing because there is none of the excitement and only the pressure.
How did the first one go? Completely as expected, the added pressure made subtle differences to their technique and I don't think they were too happy with their own performance even though we actually were. The goal of the mock wasn't to make them freak out or anything it was actually more about the Sunday after, when they came in we told them to just relax and have fun and BOOM! PR's and picture perfect lifts! All the hard work was done and we knew then that they were ready for the Saturday after.
Programming now must seem very strange to lifters, you don't really feel like you're doing anything as the rep schemes are basically non existent and technique work is pretty much standard as we're not about to change something the week before a comp. Skipping forward to the next mock competition on the Tuesday, the girls completely nailed it! we all agreed if they went out and did that on the day we would all be ecstatic, although Jenni was left with a slightly aggravated shoulder after a spilt jerk attempt we now had to be weary of and we still hadn't taught Natalie how to not swear...
The Thursday before the day the girls naturally both felt sick and had the worst training session of their lives, which is nothing to be shocked about, you just have to have the attitude that the more that goes wrong in the gym the less chance there is it will happen during your outing, remember the 6 P's "PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE". On to the actual day, we went to the gym for the usual pep talks and mess about to make sure we had everything and Tomek gave them performance enhancing drugs (he actually didn't, he gave them supplements, but they just took them without even asking!! Street smarts much!? and he made them a cake... Who does that!?!?) they both weighed in 1kg lighter than they needed to be so two happy girls already, then onto the best part after weigh in.... FEEDING TIME! Waiting to warm up was the hardest part although it was great to watch some of the other lifters and hang out in the warm up area (best place to have fun and learn).
Jenni went first, hitting perfect snatches in the warm ups as it got closer to the time to lift the squat got less and less until it eventually became power snatches, was no surprise as everyone knows that getting under the bar at times is stressful enough without doing it for three dudes with a pen and paper. First two snatches hit tremendously and she caught her third attempt which was her current PR but just lost it behind her! Damn good lifting. During the warm up for her clean & jerk Jenni bent down to set up for the lift and got a stabbing pain in her kneecap, quite a regular thing for her with her hypermobility but timing was a little bit unfair! We rested it and got her to walk around a bit and it seemed ok, so plan B was power clean and we now didn't have the luxury of any more warm up reps! All that in hand though and she went out and hit three for three with a new PR! BOOM!
Poor Natalie had been itching to warm up, quite literally ALL DAY! Finally she was in the next category and I think she was so excited to finally play with a barbell she completely forgot about having to lift! I have never seen someone so carefree in my life, I was quite concerned myself as she was told on the morning that she was not allowed to use a men's bar which she prefers. Warm up reps the same, the squat started disappearing for the snatch but she could comfortably hit her opening weight with good form and a nice confident dip... On to the platform she made the weight look like a PVC pipe! YES! Natalie's crazy strength is enhanced even more with adrenalin! Awesome! Two successful lifts and just missing the third we were all buzzing!
Back in the warm up room Natalie was hitting the BEST clean & jerks we've seen her do to date and still super relaxed it came to my favourite moment of the day... Natalie and myself dancing like idiots right in the middle of the spectators area... We had this in the bag! Out for her opening clean & jerk, she set up... Power clean... Split jerk with a stumble! But she locked it out and got her feet together! It would of counted in a CrossFit competition... But we're not at a CrossFit competition... This is weightlifting... Three red lights... No lift. Natalie came back to the corner with confidence though, she told herself she'd get it on the second attempt and she did, her instincts took over and she reverted back to her more confident push jerk, third and final lift she went out and hit it even sweeter than the last one!
Medal time and they both took home gold in their individual weight classes! Proof that hard work and dedication pays off! The strength gains that they have made has been worth every second and I am thinking that they have now inspired more people to just throw caution to the wind and just go for things! Because you don't know if you don't try! From us coaches and all Varangians WELL DONE!