On the week of May 5th, Jeff, Colin and Lindsay ventured to Salt Lake City, UT for Jeff to compete in the 77kg weight class. Below are Jeff and Colin's perspectives of their time there.
"I guess when asked about my experience at this year's 2016 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Olympic Team Trials, I should be in a surreal-postpartum status about competing on a National stage. But, as many of you know from our humble beginnings lecture, National and International competition is kind of my thing. What isn’t, or hasn’t been my thing is enjoying competition trips!
Yes, typically trips related to competitions are stressful. They are full of anxiety, wanting to win, or feeling like I would let everyone, including myself, down if I did not win. Forget performing my best, I was supposed to win. I was an idolater and winning was my idol. At the age 30, things are different. To sum up my trip, my actual competition performance is sandwiched by great memories and experiences with two of my best friends (Lindsay and Colin, respectively). When asked about the competition, my response usually defaults straight to the State/City of Utah and the sights to see. You see, I’ve realized there is much more to life than winning. I found the most enjoyable part of competing, was trying to convince others that there was more to life than competing and/or winning.
The trip was an absolute success, Humble Beast CrossFit/Barbell Club as a gym was a great representation of family and what our community is all about. We were friendly to all, competition aside; these are people whom we feel a responsibility to set an example for. Both before and after the competition, we sought out to explore Utah, spend time enjoying each other’s company and God's wonderful creations. We did not feel it was appropriate to obsess over a competition, but rather appreciate the opportunity it provided us!
Utah has an amazing coffee/espresso game, local (and free) hot springs, Whole Foods Markets with jumbo-sized kombucha bottles, and 360 degrees of beautiful mountain views around you. Oh yeah, and I placed 9th in my weight class out of the top 25 competing-qualified males in the country."
Follow Jeff on Instagram @jeffleemoon
"Our young Barbell Club at Humble Beast has been to a few more than a handful of local competitions over the past few years. I love these competitions. First of all, you get to hang out with your friends/teammates and other local weightlifting nerds. We goof around, talk shop, and eventually get serious when it’s time to perform. We train pretty hard; competitions are a time to put our efforts to the test. I really love watching my friends compete.
The environment at the Salt Palace Convention Center was not all that different. Yeah, the warm-up room is fancier, there’s a training hall, multiple lifting stages, and many more people who you also happen to follow on Instagram. Everyone is just happy to be there, supporting their friends and loved ones.
On Friday, Jeff was doing a taper session in the training hall and I was lifting with him just for fun. When we walked in, we noticed six of the eight platforms were occupied by athletes competing in the Olympic Trials that Sunday. These are the best of the best the U.S. has to offer. Norik Vardanian, who competed in the 2012 London Games and is known for his great technique, was on the platform facing us about 15 feet away. He was just finishing his Clean and Jerk taper while Jeff and I were warming up. Norik came over to us and asked if we were using the squat rack next to our platform. I knew Jeff and I would eventually need it in about 10 minutes, but I couldn’t say no to an Olympian. Total fan boy moment. While Norik was squatting with our rack, Jeff and I were snatching. All I could think was, make this 110kg “warm-up” snatch pretty, Norik is watching.
The next day was competition day. Jeff’s session was at 1pm, weigh-ins at 11am. Thanks to Lindsay’s expert planning, Jeff had no problem making weight. We had some down time before going to the warm-up hall and it happened to be the same time our friend Tiffany was lifting in the 69kg B session. Josh at El Jefe Barbell Club in Silver Spring, MD is her coach and we see them at most local competitions. We watched her session and eventually made our way to the warm-up hall and I checked out the card table. The card table is where the coaches declare and change lift attempts for the athletes. There’s a lot of jockeying for position and gamesmanship involved, especially at the national level. My job was to keep tabs on the card table to make sure Jeff’s warm-up was timed correctly and the right weights were selected to lift. It’s important for a lifter to not be fatigued but also primed and ready to go when his name is called to the platform.
Trust me, competing is not easy. You have to get up on stage and perform a difficult task, at the threshold of your ability, with everyone watching you. Adrenaline is pumping. Anxiety is high. There’s a constant fight with doubt going on in your head. This feeling is no stranger to Jeff. He’s a competitor and knows how to handle the pressure. This fact made it easy on me as I didn’t really have to do much to make sure he was in the right frame of mind.
Sunday was the Olympic Trials. The 30 best male and female American lifters all lifting in just two sessions. The women were fighting for two remaining US spots at the Rio games and the men were fighting to go to the Pan American Championships, where they will have a chance to get one spot at the Rio games this summer. Fireworks, basically. This write-up is getting a little long so if you want to hear what happened at the Trials, ask me in person. I would love to tell you the story.
In between all the weightlifting, we explored Salt Lake City. We did some hiking, which gave us a great view of the city. We ate awesome sushi, drank interesting alternative health juices, visited super hipster coffee shops, and soaked ourselves in a very very relaxing natural hot spring. All-in-all it was a great trip. I can thank Jeff and Lindsay enough for making this awesome experience possible."
Follow Colin on Instagram @coligrams