After some serious time to recall the events of the North American Open Series 1 meet (held at the Arnold), I have finally been able to sit down and write about the experience. I have really struggled to put my thoughts about this event on paper, for one very major reason. Every time I try to think about it, I am almost transported back into the meet, the excitement, the moment.
For me as a coach, the event itself was full of constantly changing emotions. I will discuss some of these feelings below; however, the strongest feeling I had throughout the weekend was pride. Overall, I spent most of the event feeling proud of PFP's lifters. Their hard work, positive and coachable attitudes, and especially their commitment to their teammates made me feel overwhelmingly proud to be part of PFP Barbell and East Coast Gold.
Initially I was struck by two conflicting emotions. The first was sheer excitement to be part of the largest weightlifting meet in history. The second feeling; however, was stress about finding East Coast Gold coaches to help with our ten lifters from PFP. Between Gina, Caleb, and myself, we expected to be stretched thin to keep sessions covered. While we were all very confident in our abilities as coaches, coaching at a historically large weightlifting meet left us all worried about doing the best possible job we could for PFP's team. Luckily for us, we quickly realized that the East Coast Gold family had us covered. Once we knew that our lifters would be well supported, the stress gave way and let us turn our focus on the team.
Our first lifter of the weekend, Mo, lifted in the very first session on Thursday morning. While she wasn't thrilled about having to wake up before 6:00am to get to weigh-ins, Mo started us off super strong. Once she was able to have breakfast, Mo did an incredible job. Watching Mo compete is always a blast, as she has some of the best post-lift celebrations out there! In addition to her enthusiasm, Mo showed up all of the competition with a singlet that was truly out of this world. She made 5 of 6 lifts and had a very memorable session!
Next up on Thursday was Andre. As an experienced competitor, Andre had some big goals for himself, and we felt very confident in him. During both his snatch and clean & jerk sessions, Andre received some tough calls from the refs. That aside, Andre made 2 of 6 lifts, putting up a total that earned him 3 gold medals! Even better than medals, Andre also put a Clean & Jerk PR overhead! Andre was awarded a 4th gold medal for his distinguished facial hair and dedication to recording the live stream for every single PFP lifter that he could capture.
Our third session on Thursday was split across two platforms. On the red platform we had Gina, Beth, and Nicole. On the white platform was Amanda. Since Gina was lifting this session, Caleb and I split up for this session. Caleb coached for Amanda and I helped out with Gina, Beth, and Nicole.
On the red platform with Gina, Beth, and Nicole, things really got interesting. Their session was a close race, as most of the lifters' totals varied only by 5 or fewer kilos. These three strong ladies handled it in stride! They warmed up well, were prepared for their lifts, and overall were successful!
A few weeks before the meet, Gina suffered a minor hip injury and had to catch all of her lifts in a power position. For Gina, this meet was about making as many lifts as possible while being careful of her injury. Between catching her lifts in a power position, and the adrenaline of the competition, Gina absolutely smoked it! She made 5 of 6 lifts, and nearly threw each lift through the ceiling!
Next up in the same session was Beth. Beth has been lifting and competing for a while, and this was not her first time competing at the Arnold. Regardless of how she may have felt on the inside, Beth remained calm and collected throughout her session. After a tough fight with snatches, Beth was able to refocus herself and come back for a much better clean and jerk session. In the end, Beth made 3 of 6 lifts and put up a great total!
The final lifter on the red platform was Nicole. Nicole entered the meet with a goal total, but very few expectations. Nicole has been lifting at 64kg, but wanted to make a total that would allow her to lift at 71kg in the future. Her goal was a 130kg total, and she CRUSHED it. It is clear that Nicole comes to life on the competition stage, as her smile lit up the platform on every lift. Nicole made all 6 lifts AND hit a snatch PR, a meet clean & jerk PR, and a PR total!
Amanda rounded out the end of the 49B session, coming into the weekend with a chance to medal for University Nationals. Still relatively new to competitive weightlifting, Amanda shows tremendous platform awareness while still making a point to make some new friends in the training hall. Despite the pressure, she started her session with laser focus and was able to remain level headed throughout her warmups. She over-pulled her second snatch at 58 and missed it behind, but kept her composure and fought back to make 59 on her third attempt. She kept that momentum going for the clean and jerks, making 73 on her third attempt for a meet PR and locking in bronze medals for Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Total! Amanda is an incredible competitor and we can't wait to see her take over the platform at Under 25 Nationals in Vegas this summer!
After a great showing on Thursday, Gina, Caleb, and I were ready to refocus on PFP's Friday sessions. First up on Friday was Abby. Abby is a super strong youth lifter, and has been lifting and competing with her dad for the last few years. Abby is known for showing up to the competition platform with a cool, calm, and confident attitude. Abby worked hard on the platform. After a tough fight in both the snatch and clean & jerk sessions, Abby made 2 of 6 lifts and put up a medal-worthy total. Abby maintained her calm nature throughout her session, and was ultimately happy to have made both of her openers for the first time in any meet! Abby will be competing in Youth Nationals this summer and is hungry to get back on the platform and give it her all!
Next up on Friday were Robert and Joe. They were lifting on different platforms at opposite ends of the building, so again we had to divide and conquer. Gina and I hung out with Robert for his session, while Caleb worked with Joe.
Robert has been lifting and competing for some time, and works hard both on and off the platform. Robert came into the meet with a goal total of 212kg. Thanks to hard work, great focus, a well-planned lifting strategy, and maybe a little bit of luck, Robert exceeded that goal by 8 whole kilos! Robert stayed calm, focused, and prepared throughout his entire session. In the end, he made all 6 lifts, hit three competition PRs, and swept gold! We are so proud of this moment for Robert and we can't wait to see him compete at Master's Nationals this summer.
Joe showed up Thursday afternoon, a day before he competed, and didn't stop smiling the whole weekend. After a rough showing at his previous meet, Joe came into his first national level event on a mission and ready to redeem himself. Joe kept his cool after getting a tough no-lift call on his third snatch attempt at 105, saying to me "let's send it into the clean and jerks!" Joe finished his session going 4 for 6 with a 230 total, and is ready to carry that momentum into training for Finals/Nationals. In addition to a great meet, Joe also spent all of his free time working hard to support his teammates throughout the weekend. Joe was ready for anything and spent all four days loading barbells, giving pep talks, and smiling until his cheeks hurt. Joe will be headed to Vegas this summer for Under 25 Nationals and is excited to keep the momentum going!
Closing out the weekend for PFP was Leo. Leo entered to compete in University Nationals, and was a blast to work with. His adrenaline was through the roof throughout his session, but he used that adrenaline to fuel him on the platform. Overall Leo had a great session! Despite numerous technical delays during his clean & jerk session, Leo put up a serious fight and hit competition PRs on both lifts and his total! He made 3 of 6 lifts with unmatched enthusiasm! Like his peers, Leo will also be competing at Under 25 Nationals in Vegas this summer and is ready to put his lifts through the roof!
At PFP, we often discuss how being part of the barbell club is about more than medals. The community, care, and fun that we promote within the gym means more to us than perfect meets or podium finishes. Throughout the weekend, this became clearer to me than ever before. I am beyond proud of the work our lifters have done, the positive attitudes they displayed, and the incredible effort they put into showing up for their teammates. Weights were lifted, snacks were shared, and even a few tears were shed. As Tom often says, "The strength of the lifter is in their team, and the strength of the team is in the lifter."
Coaches and Athletes will be contributing to this blog. We will be discussing lifting tips, smashing goals, and much more.