The International Women’s Weightlifting Grand Prix 2014
Some of you know that our very own Coach Kortney recently represented Ireland to compete in her very first international level weightlifting competition held in Speyer, Germany: The International Women’s Grand Prix. Here’s Kort’s account of the experience:
What exactly was The Women’s Grand Prix?
Technically it was the “11th International Kids, Girls, Seniors, Masters Women’s Weightlifting Grand Prix” held in the AV03 Sports Hall in Speyer, Germany from 29th of May until the 1st of June. Almost ninety women and girls competed over the two long days of lifting, with over 18 nations represented. Lifters from as far away as the USA and Canada, Uzbekistan, and even United Arab Emirates took part in the weekend, including at least one Olympic Games athlete, Common Wealth Games athletes, European Championship caliber lifters, and multiple National records holders. The range of skill, talent, and experience was vast: from newbies to elite including kids as young as 10 years old and up to women in their late fifties. It was unreal being surrounded by so many other women passionate about weightlifting!
How were you selected for the team?
Weightlifting Ireland is the governing body of the sport of weightlifting in Ireland. Through competing in Weightlifting Ireland competitions, I ranked in the top 5 Masters women lifters in Ireland based on a scoring equation called the Metzler-Malone which accounts age grading. I was invited to lift as a Masters 1 (M1) lifter – meaning in the age group category of 35-39 years old based on this scoring system. I suppose you could say I was selected because I’m “old”.
How did you prepare for the competition?
My coaches at Capital Strength gave me a program involving a lot of focus on just the main lifts: the snatch and clean and jerk about four days a week—and of course plenty of squatting. Unfortunately, due to a soft tissue injury in my left forearm, there was a lot of adapting and modifying of the program to minimize exacerbation of the existing injury, while still keeping fit enough to lift on the big day. It was actually quite a struggle to balance training and recovery because I am always eager to lift–but the pain was telling me NO!
What did it feel like to be a part of Team Ireland?
I was absolutely astounded and honored for the opportunity to represent Ireland alongside a group of AMAZING women. There were eight of us in total – five lifters at the more competitive senior level and three Masters lifters, along with our coaches and manager. Every single woman did an incredible job on the big stage, with several first place category finishes, and as a team we placed fourth overall. I was very proud and we all had a blast! Go Team Eire!
What was the actual competition experience like?
Fortunately for me as a Masters level lifter, I got to lift on the first day of the competition and get it over with—meaning I could relax and enjoy the remainder of the weekend and cheer on the rest of the team while sipping beer in the sports hall! I was pleased at weigh-in (weightlifting is a weight class sport—although weight class does not apply as a Masters lifter, I still wanted to come in “light”, which I did manage to squeeze in at 63.0kg). My coach warmed me up very slowly in the warm-up area of the sports hall, alongside my other two Masters teammates. In a weightlifting competition you only get three individual attempts to get a good snatch and once all the lifters in your group have finished their snatches, you get three attempts at the clean and jerk. There are three judges who determine whether or not you actually make a good lift or not. This is how weightlifting competitions are pretty different from CrossFit. For example, if the judges see an elbow “wobble” and perceive it to be a press-out, they can red light your lift, even if you successfully get it overhead and stand up with the weight, it’s at their discretion to call the lift good or bad. Likewise, if you successfully make a lift and prematurely drop the bar before the judges have indicated that you should do so, it’s also a no lift, and doesn’t count. With only three attempts possible, these technicalities, along with others, make it somewhat nerve-wracking. In addition, in a weightlifting competition, you are the only person on the platform at the time and EVERYONE in the room is staring at YOU as you attempt to lift a heavy-ass weight overhead, often times at the limit of your ability. It’s just plain scary! And exhilarating! And somehow forces me to reflexively finish each lift with a HUGE “Ta-da, I DID IT!!!” smile ridiculously plastered across my face. Seriously. Every. Single. Lift. Say CHEESE!
So, how did you perform?
This competition was the best I’ve ever felt prior to stepping on the platform with regards to nerves and confidence. I never really know what weight my opening lifts are going to be, either. My coach was conservative with my openers to ensure I’d be successful in making the lifts, especially in light of the slight arm issue we’d been working around for weeks. After easily hitting my first snatch, I felt much more relaxed for the remainder of the competition. I ended up getting all three snatches, ending at 47kg, safely below my training PB, but still a competition PB for myself, so I was pleased. As for clean and jerks, I missed my second attempt due to a press out of my jerk, but came back for the third attempt and nailed it with another competition PB of 66kg. My lifting was strong enough to take first place in the M1 class, although I think the most complicated bit of the whole experience occurred while trying to collect my swag on the podium! I was an awkward idiot trying to juggle all the “prizes” they handed up to me, including a lovely cup trophy—with a separating top. Here’s my advice on receiving this type of hardware: DO NOT try grabbing such a trophy by the top…the bottom will not come along with it, and then it’s a jumbled mess, especially when they’ve handed you a huge calendar, t-shirt, a shot glass, a certificate and a pin and then they all want handshakes?! Somehow I managed, and all in all, it was a really fun experience.
Was there anything else particularly notable to mention?
Aside from being a part of an incredibly strong team of women and coaches and having my husband along for support while celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary on the same day that I lifted and won first place? Well, I guess I’d have to say it was really cool to see legendary two-time Olympian and two-time Common Wealth Games Gold medalist Welsh lifter and coach, Michaela Breeze, set a new British record with her snatch – hitting 94kg at under 58kg of body weight. And she is my age – but NOT lifting as a Masters lifter because she’s a rockstar! THAT was amazing to see. Sadly, she missed her clean and jerks, as she was going for a record breaking 113kg attempt. She was incredible to watch.
The event was a great experience, with the Irish team making a really strong showing, again taking fourth place overall. The weekend concluded with a great awards night and banquet, with plenty of food, and booze, festive fun!