ImageIt’s rainy, cold-ish, and gray in Dallas today. It’s warm, sunny, and perfect in Palm Spring California. As I sit reflecting on this past weekend, I can’t help but wish I were poolside at the Renaissance Hotel. 5 days after winning my first American Open I’ve finally gotten the chance to reflect on the wild ride that got me there.

Last minute I decided to cut the 4kg and drop to the 69kg weight class. Looking at my weight, my training (or lack thereof) leading into the Open, and my chances at a medal it seemed like the best bet. Trying to keep up with the likes of James Tatum, Jake Rubash, and Adam Beytin seemed well out of reach. So I cut the weight. Not my favorite part of the competition. (post on how I did it later) Unfortunately, I didn’t drop to a weight class full of weaklings. I found myself in a dog fight against Mike Szela and Timothy Scott. Two studs more than ready to put me in my place.

Background on my experiences at the American Open: My first American Open was in Birmingham in 2006. I weighed 62kg (cut weight for that meet too) and I snatched 85kg before bombing on the CJ. I’ve competed ever since, never placing higher than 5th. To say that the American Open has been an annual reality check for me about sums it up.

This year was no different. After snatching fairly well (117kg), I found myself in the lead by 5kg. Mainly because Timothy missed a 115 snatch that he had the capacity to make. The reality check came in the CJ. Opening well below my competition and finishing at 142kg, I left the door wide open for both Timothy and Mike to give me the bronze. I didn’t win for their lack of preparedness or strength. I won because of a coaching mistake and a very very close miss by Mike. The reality check came in one statement: get better at clean and jerk.

I spent the rest of the weekend angry about the Dawgs losing, bewildered that I acutally won the American Open, trying my best to commentate for the Outlaw Open (more on this to come), and watching stud lifters like Jenny Arthur, Megan Poole, Jon North, Travis Cooper, and the Barnes Boys. As I sit here now, it’s hard to believe that after so many years of trying I finally have a gold medal. The sobering thought however is that were we to do it all again… Mike probably wouldn’t “miss” that jerk and Tim probably wouldn’t miss that snatch. For now I will take the win but with the knowledge that next time 117 and 142 probably will not be enough.

Time to get back to work.

1 Chronicles 19:13