My First Weightlifting Competition: A Beginner’s Perspective

So following from our post on what to expect at your first weightlifting competition, I thought I would write a little about my experience on the day from a beginner’s point of view.

Just as Sarah and Rose said in their post, when I walked in and saw people flinging tin, then saw my friends sat with them, I thought ‘FUCK, what am I doing here’

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I don’t belong here, ooo-ooh, ooo-ooh

My first competition was in a familiar environment at MSC Performance. I’ve trained there loads before and knew everyone. But that almost made the anxiety worse.

I also didn’t expect to feel anxious about aiming for six lifts. A few weeks prior I was caught up with making weight and what I was opening at. I wanted to open at a PB, but my coach brought me down a peg or two and said ‘This isn’t powerlifting; it’s much more complex.’

It suddenly hit me that this is different. I’m out of control of the bar for a few seconds in the hope it lands above my head instead of ending up with concussion, or worse, dying.

Weightlifter-Beyonce.jpgYou can’t Beyonce it.

Realistically I knew that wasn’t going to happen as I’d done all the movements loads with my coach, but I couldn’t help but think about all things that could go wrong anyway.

Shut Up About the Scale

One thing I hated when competing for the first time was the chat about weight. That wasn’t my focus, but it seemed to be everyone else’s. Weight is completely irrelevant for your first competition, in my opinion. I didn’t get that until the day before when I suddenly realised that focusing on six lifts was enough to think about.

I didn’t dare weigh myself prior– I didn’t want to. I sat there with my chicken drumsticks and my Fox’s creme biscuits like an athlete. The girls looked at me funny. Let’s just say I don’t think they appreciated it.

On the day, I jumped on the scales in my bra and pants weighing a total of 71.6kg like I always am in training (okay not on fat days). Great, I thought! I weigh something.

So weighing is over and nobody is talking about it. Fantastic.

Then I got the Fear

I watched a few of my friends compete, but found myself having to withdraw myself. My heart rate was pretty high I needed to chill and focus on me. I’ve been a spectator before and its great to watch but i made that conscious switch to think about myself.

There were some weightlifting lads in the warm-up area and I thought I’d engage them in conversation. Then I thought, ‘No, do not talk to the boys– this isn’t a Friday night.’ So I warmed up alone, chilling until I could jump on a platform. It was good to have Yasmin to talk to and I made effort to talk to girls that seemed to be on their own.

As the time to compete drew closer I did just shut down. I wasn’t talking to anyone. I wasn’t listening to people. They were talking at me: words. My coach grabbed me to show me where everything was and what would happen.

I immediately felt more at ease going through the training area just seeing the place and what happens. I knew it was time to go  to beast mode.I went through a few transitions pretty quickly: from bag of nerves, to a wreck, to happy place, to beast mode, to loving life.

Beast Mode Engage

I listened to my coach. I didn’t look at anyone during the warm up. I couldn’t deal. I was focusing on moving well, being snappy and ready. Coach said “Now why can’t you move more like this in training?” Cheeky fucker!

The first lift is the worst, but once it was out of the way, I soon got into the hang of it. By the time the snatch had finished, I felt really game for the clean and jerk. I’d gone out on the platform, so I knew what it was about. I didn’t acknowledge the audience or anyone back in the training area– I was just thinking about the next lift. I didn’t look at the numbers on the screen, who was in front or behind me. In fact, I didn’t even ask what I was going in at. I just wanted to make lifts.

After realising that it’s just lifting I got to a point where I was feeling comfortable and actually enjoying it. We decided to go for a PB. And I did it! 75 kg.

 

What I found awesome was the respect I got when I came off the platform. People reloading plates for me, giving me water, jumpers, hugging me, fist-bumping me, smiling at me. It was nice to have that. I don’t think I’ve had that respect in a sport before. In team sports you just get on with it. You’re part of the team its your duty to the team etc. This was individual and I really liked that. It was about me. Yes, I can do individual sports.

What was really the highlight for me was the judge himself saying “beautiful lifting.” I wasn’t bothered about placings, and in my head I wasn’t going to get a place. I hadn’t earnt it yet.

I just needed a reference point, but for a judge to notice something about my lifting was really great for me. Showing them what my coach had me moving like was one of my achievements of the day. As well as not dying, bashing the bar on my head, or this (vomit):

My tips for other newbies

Competition is a game-changer. It’s a catalyst for progress and production. It gives you a reference point. I would say to anyone who is thinking of competing to go and do it! It can only help your training, mindset and development as a weightlifter and you will find stuff out about yourself!

From the day here are my top tips for competing for the first time:

  1. Forget about what you weigh.
  2. Eat loads.
  3. Have an explore and get familiar with the environment.
  4. You won’t die, so don’t worry about it. You didn’t need to bring the helmet.
  5. Get your first lift out the way and then enjoy the rest.
  6. If you feel nervous, talk to people who have the experience.
  7. Touch people with black t-shirts on with chalky hands and laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

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