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Monday, December 15, 2014

American Open 2014 - highlights and when sh*t happens

II was excited to go to the American Open 2014 in Washongton DC. My 11yr old daughter qualified, several of our athletes at Risto Sports qualified, and up until October of 2014, I had the highest total for a USAW 69kg female. It was an interesting weekend.


LG- Gwendolyn Rojas- the phenom continues :

LG's goal for 2014 was to win youth Nationals. Qualifying for the American Open was never even on our radar- she's barely 11yrs old .  Her 2014 weightlifting year is quite serendipitous.

She accomplished he main goal back at the 2014 Youth Nationals.  As a side bonus to achieving her goal, she was ranked the #1 13&under athlete and qualified for Team USA. On top of that, she won her first ever international meet (IWF sanctioned meet) at the OTC.  A couple of weeks later, at a meet Risto Sports was hosting with CrossFit Everproven, LG hit the American Open qualifying total.

Again, on top of all this, LG is the youngest ever competitor at the American Open -( the next youngest lifters were Amber Davis 1997? and Jamie Spivey,1996).

LG did awesome. She made all three snatches- 40, 44, and 46kg. Her cleans were solid . She power cleaned her opener at 52kg, missed the jerk. Power cleaned and jerked her second attempt at 52kg, and she power cleaned her third attempt at 57kg and narrowly missed the jerk. I'm very happy as she has so much runway to improve in the C&J. 

After all this, we found out that LG was recently profiled in Muscle and Fitness. You can see the article on her here: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/athletes-celebrities/news/introducing-10-year-old-weightlifting-phenom-gwendolyn-rojas 


Dr Ninja and Prempeh

Our lifter Amylynn Frankel made her national debut at the AO in the women's 48kg. She posted a total with good display of technique while looking jacked (only person I know who regularly eats bread and has a 6 pack, shes on instagram under dr ninja). She has so much ability to improve in this sport and has already improved so much since starting to lift with us. 

My little brother, Ernie Prempeh, owner of donuts and weightlifting,  competed in men's 69kg for Risto Sports as well. In the short time he has worked with us, his technique and lifts have improved so much. I am so proud of how he stuck his last jerk with 130kg. He has so much ability as well. And, just like Dr Ninja, he is jacked (follow him on instagram under jacked hippie)


When things go differently

I liked the idea of going to DC for a national competition- there's a flight every 30 min from Boston to any of the DC airports, it has great public transportation, and it is a beautiful city.  The start of my trip seemed a bit foreshadowing -- in Logan airport, I smashed my forehead open. 

Going into this competition, I was number 1 on the start list. I knew my openers alone would be medals. Best case- I win and improve my ranking; worst case-I win medals and improve my ranking. Just by chance things should pan out fine for me, right?

At the start of my session,  I had plenty of time to warm-up. I decided to get my arms and shoulders worked on. At the Olympia, I was worked on by one of the guys who founded ART, Dr Ripley. Never had my overhead position been better. So, in a attempt to recreate that, I got  worked on by one of the staff in the medical area by the warm up room.

Well, may be I fucked up...   

My warm-ups were so easy.  I did a good job of zoning out while waiting for my time to start warming-up. Going into this competition, mentally, I had worked on just relaxing, conserving energy, and staying confident going into this competition vs my normal going a million miles per hour adrenal rush.  I definitely felt great.

I power snatched 80kg in the warm-up room. I went for my opener- an easy 85kg. It was fast smooth and high. It was even better than the 85s I had done in training the prior weeks. It felt great; I felt no weight on the bar.


 I went for 90kg on my second. I have lifted 90kg or more several times in competition. I remember approaching the bar just knowing I could do it. I approached the bar, even noticing the green plates nestled to the side of the 25s loaded on the bar, and I thought to myself, "this does not phase me, I can acknowledge the green plates are there and I'm ok with that.   I'll do this ".

 The next movements felt like an eternity . I caught the bar, it was a little out of position. It was so light though, it was weightless, I never even really felt the weight on my arms.  I felt myself rock on my toes to steady it.  A crucial moment then came: do I ditch this or do I try to save it. I decided to stand forward to balance the bar, it only rocked backward. The bar went backwards as I chased it forward . I heard a crack in my right elbow.

This seemed to elapse over several seconds when, really, from watching the video if it, it took only hundredths of a second.

I ran back stage in agony, screaming bloody murder for ice.

Coming into the warm-up room, the last thing on my mind was that I would injure myself . I only got worked on because I thought it would give me an advantage in my catch.   I thought I had a better chance of  the cut on my head splitting open and passing out than injuring any part of my body. I wasn't going to even attempt weights on the edge of my limit. I'm just completely shocked.

Injuries are weird . With adrenaline pumping through my system, my elbow could move. It wasn't even that sore at first.  I mean, it was sore, just not as sore as I expected.  The "I've been doing this shit for 20 years"  in me knew that this injury was more than just a little ache you can lift through.

In the minutes we had until my next attempt, the medical aid tested my elbow with a bar overhead ,and I could hold it. Do we go for another attempt? It was clear doing 90-93kg would be gold and these are weights I handled, and I was not sure if my first attempt would hold-up.

We passed on my third.  It still left the clean and jerk in question . The clean and jerk puts far less stress on the elbow .  Do we try for a decent clean and jerk and overall total and jerk medal? John Thrush was able to give us some good perspective . Was winning a medal at this competition really worth it?  No.  

As I sat and iced my elbow, it turned out my 1 lift of the whole competition was good enough for a snatch bronze.

I left venue with ice and 1g of naproxen in my system.  I went back to my room and changed into my clothes.   I didn't really want to even move or go back and get my medal in the snatch. What was the point? My angel LG urged me to collect it. I watched the reminder of the competition seeing, indeed that my opener was good for a medal and winning was in reach.  I really thought ---just out of mere chance --this competition would go well. Well, shit happens.

Ending on the optimistic side- being grateful

I think it's funny that my one lift won a medal.
 I think it's great that every competition I'm opening with bigger weights .  I have more friends than I realize, people were very supportive after my injury, even as I was mopey. Out of the top competitors , I'm probably the only one with a full time job, side business, and kid.  My legs are the weakest of lifters who total similar to me, and all I will do is squat the next couple weeks.


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