Post American Open Thoughts

So it’s been a busy week. Last week we were away at the American Open in Orlando to coach our athlete Lindsay and help our friend Corrin who was competing without a coach. So I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the experience of the past week.

First of all, the weather was a great change of pace compared to the bitter cold New England snow that is going on this week. We were talking about how we can’t say anything bad about people that leave New England in the winter. It’s totally worth it.

    Second of all, I want to say congratulations to both Lindsay and Corrin for their efforts over the weekend. Both of them were competing in their first national weightlifting competition, and second overall. Both of them did extremely well and handled themselves with such confidence and determination that I am proud to say that I had the privilege to work with both of them.

    Lindsay totaled 145kg (319lbs) at a bodyweight of 51.9kg (114lbs) to set a new PR total and just missed qualifying for American Nationals by 4kg, which she could’ve done by making her last lift. So she’s knocking on the door. I have no doubt we’ll be in Chicago with her in May. Corrin, although not our athlete, was unbelievably impressive this weekend. Competing in the 69A session against Mattie Rogers, she finished with a 190kg (418lbs) total at a bodyweight of 67.7kg (149lbs). Impressive work all around.

    Weightlifting is one of those sports where age doesn’t really matter too much, and you can still be competitive at 30+ years old. Just ask Kendrick Farris who went to his third Olympics this year at 30, or Pyrros Dimas who competed and took bronze at his 4th Olympics in 2004 at age 33. Morghan King just went to Rio and she’s 31. Colin Burns just broke the American snatch record at -94kg with a 173kg lift. He’s 33. So I think you get the point. I’m sure that both Lindsay and Corrin have bright futures in the sport and I look forward to being close to both of their journies.

    Overall, the weekend was a success. American records were broken in many weight classes by multiple different lifters, and it is exciting to see the sport progress as athletes continue to get stronger. It’s no secret that the US has to play catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to weightlifting. But we’re heading in the right direction. I have faith that Phil Andrews and his team will be able to take USAW where they need to go.

    Now because I like to stir the pot, I want to bring up this point that some people seem to be overlooking. USAW closed the resident training program at the OTC earlier this year, forcing the athletes to find new homes and teams. Since then athletes have moved on to Mash, Juggernaut, Cal Strength, and a few others. Now, somewhat magically, the group that was recently referred to as “The Bomb Squad” on the internet has been able to turn around their performances. There was quite the stretch when you would see the resident athletes bombing out in their competitions, earning them their aforementioned nickname and the OTC the name “The Bomb Shelter” all across online message boards and forums. So what was the issue? Was it the coaching at the OTC vs. these private teams? Was it complacency? Who knows. But what I do know is that the issue seems to have been rectified thankfully. And even though weightlifting isn’t necessarily a young-man’s game, with names like CJ Cummings, Mattie Rogers, Marissa Klingseis, Kathleen Winters, Nathan Damron, Wes Kitts, and Tom Summa all under the age of 25, it looks like USA weightlifting has a very bright future. Thanks to all who attended, competed, coached, and supported the event last weekend. And thanks to USAW for hosting a great event at a great venue.

    Want to share your own thoughts on the change of direction of USA weightlifting? Or have any insights or ideas why the former resident athletes have improved so much? Feel free to share your comments below.