My First Olympic Weightlifting Meet

by ~jenniferlynn on January 27, 2015

in Olympic Weightlifting

I did it.

I am now an official weightlifter, with an official score, at an official sanctioned weightlifting meet!

For the short story: Walked in with extreme fear and intimidation, made my weight class I was hoping for, missed both of my opener lifts, cried a little, didn’t try to PR, took home some bronze, and had an amazing experience!

For the longer story, read on!

This was my first time training for, and competing in an Olympic weightlifting meet, and while it seems like a very simple event on the outside, I learned quite a few things in the last couple weeks and during the competition itself. This post summarizes everything you need to know about the basics on how a meet works, but I’d rather use this space to talk about me, obviously. 😉

The Weigh-In

I knew I was going to need to compete in the 63kg weight class, as I had no intentions of dropping weight for a first-time meet (and I haven’t weighed the equivalent of 58kg in quite some time, nor did I want to intentionally have to gain weight to lift in the 69kg class).

After some unnecessary stress and worry, I just cut out sugar for the week, consciously ate a little less carbs, and ended up weighing in a 62.0kg. Perfect! This put me in a class of three other girls competing (guaranteed to place…), but then another girl didn’t meet her weight class, so I was now in a pool of four.

I took a quick walk across the street to Tim Horton’s and treated myself to a celebratory blueberry muffin.. 😉

Strategizing Lifts

The goal here wasn’t to PR, but rather successfully hit all of my lifts with “white lights.” What would count in Crossfit may not necessarily count in an Oly meet, thus training 1RMs are not necessarily the same as a competition PR.

Based on my training, confidence level, and considering it was my first meet, my coach set my opening snatch at 41kg (about 90% of my max, though my initial thoughts were to start lower, but he suggested not to make such a big jump between lifts) and opening clean and jerk at 52kg (88% of my max – I have been having a crazy hard time with my jerk lately!). The plan was set to perform my snatches at 41kg, 42kg, 43kg (ending at 94.6% of max), and clean and jerk at 52kg, 53kg, 54kg (to end at 95% of max).

Though clean and jerk used to be my favorite lift, snatches have skyrocketed above them in the loves of my life list, so I was more concerned about my snatch performance than clean and jerk, especially given my struggles with jerking.

Warm-Up Room

I am pretty thankful that the owner of the strength/conditioning gym I have been dropping in to lately was willing to help me determine my warm-up lifts. Something that I wasn’t even thinking about was how and when to warm up. Based on what the other girls were lifting, I could have ended up, and actually did for a couple lifts, following myself. This meant that my weights were sequential and no other girl was lifting at that same weight before the weights went up.

 

He pretty much calculated every warm-up rep, when I needed to sit, stand, lift, RELAX, BREATHE (I have quite difficulty with this.. for doing doubles and singles, my heart rate was quite elevated).

Snatch

From the picture of the platform above, you can see how intimidating the stage was for this event. While I did have an amazing support group who came to cheer me on, the audience was still made up of plenty of people I didn’t know.

Not knowing what to expect, I went out there to do my opening snatch. Something felt weird when I approached the bar.. subtle, but something just wasn’t right. I was slightly panicked and tried to re-adjust but I immediately lost my confidence, as shown in the lift.

 

To fail an opening lift is soul-crushing.. annnnddddd then came the tears…

After a quick pep talk as the two-minute clock quickly ran down, I had no choice but to get back and do it again.

 

PHEW!

A much more committed, confident lift at 41kg. I opted to only add one kilo rather than attempt 43kg, and it felt great!

 

My confidence was restored and I was feeling pretty good.

Clean and Jerk

Despite soliciting some extra help the couple of weeks leading up to the meet, my jerk at 88% of my max still has just felt funky. You know how you have those lifts sometimes where you go to jerk and it’s more of a jerk and press? Where you almost get the jerk, but have to put some extra effort to lock your elbows out and it feels super uncomfortable? Those types of jerks don’t count in Olympic weightlifting. It has to be solid.

So with the bar loaded at 52kg, I went out there..

 

Ugh.

To fail both opening lifts, which are supposed to be easy, comfortable, guaranteed hits.. so discouraging and frustrating!

But this time, I did not cry. 😉

I sucked it up, chatted with my coach, he gave me a similar pep talk, to relax, breathe, take my time, understand failed lifts happen, just refocus and move forward. So, let’s try that again.

 

That bar flew up there so fast and my jerk felt so good that I dropped the bar before the judge told me to put it down (a requirement that my coach told me so many times before), which technically makes it a red-light lift. I was so excited though!

My final attempt was immediately following at 53kg, again, not quite close to my max (~56kg), but I did not want to fail. I could have played some sort of game in which I jumped to 54kg, giving another girl an opportunity to lift before me and a change for more rest, but at this point I was feeling in the zone and wanted to just add and be done.

 

Easy.

I felt SO STRONG. Maybe it was because it was only 93% of my max, but I wanted to go home and attempt to PR at that point! 😉

The Podium

At the end of the event, I was called up to claim my third-place finish and some shiny bronze bling (but darn the girl who didn’t make her weight class; otherwise I’d be in second! 😉 )! Just kidding.. I made some new friends in this experience!

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Overall, this meet really wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be, and I learned so much about the sport, the strategy, and about myself.

I was told there is no crying in weightlifting and I know I need to manage my negative emotions a bit better if I do fail a lift, but everything else I have learned is pretty invaluable.

I cannot wait to compete again!

Through many emotions had a great time competing at the @canusabarbell /@jekyllhyde_apparel Open today. I'd say overall my very first Olympic weightlifting experience was a success, especially since I have had very little formal weightlifting training since I decided to do this meet (thanks tons to @jekyllhyde_coach of @4starstrength for the last minute Oly cram sessions!). Despite only four girls in my weight class, was honored to be up on the podium with some inspiring ladies @crystalblester and @sailinchik90.. The bar is set pretty high to place any higher and i have some new competition goals now!! I may or may not have worn my bronze all day, only to take it off for the picture.. 😏 Looking forward to getting back to training and another meet in the future, with much less nerves!! #oly #63kg #progressnotperfection #ffcheckin #hinesparkcrossfit

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Chris January 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Look at you go!! Your first meet, you’re just trying to get comfortable and learn how it all functions… and you end up hitting lifts and getting on the podium! That’s awesome! Congratulations. And I know you’ll definitely be back here giving us another recap sooner rather than later! =)
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~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for all the encouragement always, Chris! 🙂

Sandy Shepard January 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Great job!!!! Man your elbows are AWESOME on your clean!!!!!

~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Haha, thanks!! Plenty of practice!!

Meredith Taylor January 27, 2015 at 1:20 pm

That’s so awesome! Congratulations! I recently started following your blog & I love it! I just started crossfit last night actually & I’m so excited about it. I would do powerlifting with my husband at the gym but crossfit is giving us so much more guidance! I would love to compete one day!

~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Thanks for reading, Meredith!! Crossfit is a whole new world that has led me to so many great things! 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions.. I have tons of posts on Crossfit and things that go with it! Check this post out –> http://www.winetoweightlifting.com/5-things-know-first-three-months-crossfit/

Mary Long
Twitter: inmyheadspace
January 27, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Way to go Jen! I am proud of you!

~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Thanks, Mary!! 🙂

karla @ finding my fit January 27, 2015 at 3:09 pm

this is so exciting, congrats! i need to work on my snatch big time before i ever attempt something like this. and i’d need to cut a ton of weight cause there’s no way i could compete with the 75k gals 😉

cant wait to see what happens in future competitions for you!!!

~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Karla! It’s tough when I preach that weight doesn’t matter.. and now here is a sport where it kinda DOES matter..!

I say sign up ANYWAY! You’ll never feel “ready”, so just jump at an opportunity and try!

Wendi January 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Great job lady! Sorry I missed it! Guess you’ll have to do another one so I can come watch!

But you are truly an inspiration and every time you push yourself outside your comfort zone, it makes me want to do it too! <3

~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Thank you!! 🙂

I’m telling you.. it’s just about signing up for things… and freaking out about them later.. 😉

Meredith January 27, 2015 at 5:26 pm

You go girl. I’ve heard hitting lifts in OLY is much more specific than crossfit but I really enjoy lifting so maybe i should practice a little more and give one of these comps a try!?
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~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 9:49 pm

YES! Do you have a coach that specifically trains Oly lifting or a separate Oly class? It makes a HUGE difference!

Deryn @ Running on Real Food January 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Good job, girl!! I think it’s time for me to compete too…I’m so nervous though and there’s so much to think about!! Eeek. Way to go, what an accomplishment. Are you doing the open this year?
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~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 9:51 pm

I haven’t officially signed up… but yes likely doing the Open! 🙂 It’s just one of those things you have to do! 😉

And YESSSS compete in SOMETHING! Anything! Just sign up for something you can do, or are close to being able to do.. and worry about it later.

Just like a race- very few races do you sign up with the intention to win.. you just sign up to push yourself.. so do it!

Charlotte January 27, 2015 at 6:51 pm

What an accomplishment! Congratulations.
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~jenniferlynn January 27, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Thank you!!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 27, 2015 at 11:55 pm

This is SO COOL!!! Congratulations! It looks like a blast and you rocked it. I’d love to try this one day…
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~jenniferlynn January 28, 2015 at 9:41 am

Doooo itttt! 🙂

Jen @ Chase the Red Grape January 28, 2015 at 7:24 am

Well done Jennifer!! I was cheering you on watching all of those videos!
I cant wait to see what you do next! You really are an inspiration and proof of what you can achieve if you just believe in yourself!
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~jenniferlynn January 28, 2015 at 9:41 am

Aw, thanks Jen!! 🙂

Kelly January 28, 2015 at 10:38 am

I threw up and cried at my first meet. We all handle those nerves differently. Way to come back from missing those openers!

~jenniferlynn January 28, 2015 at 10:48 am

Yikes! That’s one thing I wasn’t worried about compared to a Crossfit competition.. I was thinking that at least I won’t throw up (food choices were much easier for this!).

It is nice to hear when other people have similar struggles, but yes, pushed through and would love to do it again!

Danielle
Twitter: itsaharleyylife
January 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Great job lady! This is an awesome experience! I loved learning more about this through you… You signed up for another one right? (:

Jeremy February 1, 2015 at 5:52 pm

It’s good to see another person who chronicled their first weightlifting event. I thought I’d be the only one. My first comp was very similar but without tears. Congrats and great job!
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~jenniferlynn February 1, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Thank you for reading!! Will check it out!

Gillian @somewhat sane February 9, 2015 at 11:05 am

i really loved reading this post- i have just recently become infected by the snatch, clean and jerk virus myself 🙂 not sure if i will be competing anytime soon, but you never know! great job in your first competition!!!

Krista February 21, 2015 at 11:47 pm

This is pure awesomeness, and such inspiration. I did the open last year but I can’t imagine having allll eyes on me during an oly meet – ahhhhh.
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Bonnie March 3, 2015 at 7:54 pm

I read your comment on Juggernaut which lead me to read your post! I so needed to READ your post as well as the Juggernaut (A Guide to Your First Weightlifting Meet). This couldn’t have come at a better time! It’s 11 days until my first Comp.!

~jenniferlynn March 4, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Awesome, Bonnie!! Best of luck!! :)Just remember to RELAXXXXXXXXXXXX.. And don’t cry. 😉

April April 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Girl I am soo excited reading this!! I have my first meet this Saturday and am so close to the 58kh class (4 lbs too heavy), but I’m not going to do anything weird this week. I plan to drink distilled water throughout the week and cut back on sweets.
My numbers are almost the same as yours though for the lifts my coach has for me!
You are COURAGEOUS and awesome and there is no shame in the tears! For pete’s sake, that’s just normal reaction to disappointment and stress!
I hope my experience is good. I just want to make at least 5/6 of my lifts, make friends, and ENJOY.

I wish you the best on your lifting/CFing endeavors! (I’m strictly Oly training right now)

April

~jenniferlynn April 12, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Thanks for the comment April! Just remember why you’re doing it and HAVE FUN!! come back and let me know how it goes or share with me on social media @winetoweights!

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