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Irish Lifters at the 2012 EWC

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Eamonn Flanagan
85kg lifter

Joined: 10 Jan 2007
Posts: 348

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:51 pm    Post subject: Irish Lifters at the 2012 EWC Reply with quote

Harry Leech, who was the lead coach of the Irish team at the recent European Championships asked me to post his competition reports here:

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We had our first day of competition for the Irish team today in the 77kg category, with James Small and Peter Stewart competing in the 77kg 'C' class.

James was first up of our two athletes, following a Kosovan athlete who had a tough day. James has worked extremely hard to get here and we were very keen that he would get a good first experience at a Senior European Championships.

Despite a slight wobble at the start, where James missed his first attempt in the Snatch with 92kg, he went on to have a fantastic day. He Made 92kg easily on his second attempt and went on to nail 96kg on his third attempt, despite having to follow himself.

Peter was up next in the Snatch. As we had two athletes competing at the same time Cathal Byrd, who competes tomorrow in the 85kg class, graciously agreed to help out in the warm-up area. He was a great help and made everyone's day a lot easier.

Pete has had an issue with his back for some time which, while he wouldn't admit it at the time, was clearly bothering him. He put this behind him in his preparation however, and had a good warm-up. As a result he opened with 109kg, which he made very easily. He then jumped to 113kg for his second attempt which was even better than the first.

Feeling good, he went for 116kg for his third attempt. He hadn't done more than 115kg in competition before but you wouldn't tell it by his third lift - 116kg shot up, Pete controlled it with apparent ease and got three white lights. A PB at a European Senior Championships is a rare occurrence but Pete made it happen.

After a short break, James Small started his warm-up. It went well and by the time he got out on the platform James was as confident as I've seen him on any platform. He got his 115kg opener and we chose to go to 119kg - although the first lift was good, he missed the bounce on it and it looked a little harder than it should for him.

His second lift looked far easier - he caught the bounce in the Clean this time and nailed the jerk. As a result James was more confident, I was more confident and he already had 4 out of 5 lifts under his belt. James wanted to at least attempt 125kg and I thought it was a good call. The Clean was tougher, but a good clean nonetheless, and James nailed the Jerk.

We discussed before the competition day the goals for James and agreed that as this was his first European Senior championships, we just wanted him to go out, get as many lifts as possible and get lots of experience he can use at a later date. He did exactly what was asked of him, got within a few kilograms of his personal bests in both lifts and performed fantastically.

Peter was in good form after his PB performance in the Snatch, but it was clear that his back was bothering him. He cleaned 138kg easily for his opener, but the bar was sitting a little close to his windpipe. A little dizzy, he lost the jerk in front.

He repeated 138kg for his second attempt and got it easily this time. For his third attempt, he went to 144kg, which would be a 3kg PB in the total. The Clean was good and the jerk went high, but slightly in front. Unfortunately there was a wobble in his right arm as he moved forward to claim it and the decision went 2 to 1 against him.

Overall it was a good day - 9 out of a possible 12 lifts, a PB performance from Pete and a very confident performance from James.

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The two guys were lifting yesterday, but thankfully we had a reasonable gap in between both classes. Kevin was lifting in the 94kg 'C' class which began at 9.15am Turkish time. This meant an early start and we were down at the venue by 7.00am (5am Irish time.) Kevin had no problem making weight as always and had plenty of time to refuel and relax after weighing in.

He was feeling good, but a little sluggish. Snatching near-max attempts when your body thinks it's 7.00 am is not for the faint hearted. Kevin's warm-up went okay but I could tell he wasn't feeling 100% and he confirmed this afterwards.

Kevin opened with 133kg which looked better than anything he had done in the warm-up room. It was an easy attempt so we increased the second attempt to 138kg. There were two other lifters taking attempts before Kevin as a result of the jump, so he had a bit of a breather.

His second attempt was a great pull, but it travelled away from him a little at the top of the second pull - as a result he lost it behind.

As he had over-pulled the pull significantly and he would have to follow himself straight away if he went 138kg again we decided to opt for 140kg. This meant Kevin could have a break (the venue is very warm - more on that later) and compensate for the over-pulled second attempt.

Unfortunately the third attempt with 140kg wasn't to be - a slight under-pull and it was lost in front. The decision to go for 140kg was a decision that had to be made quickly and we both agreed with it. In retrospect 138kg or 139kg may have been a better option, but hindsight is 20/20. We both learned from the experience and it will inform our decision-making in future.

Kevin's Clean & Jerk warm-up went a little better than the Snatch. However it was still only 8.00am at home and he was still a little sluggish. He opened with 162kg and made it well. We put down 167kg for his second attempt. It seemed a conservative jump, but Kevin missed the Clean.

I could see at this stage that the early hour of the morning and the heat were getting to Kevin. We chose to repeat 167kg for his third attempt and Kevin put everything he had into it. The attempt was never in any doubt, it was a great Clean & Jerk, but as Kevin said afterwards, "it might have looked easy, but it didn't feel easy."

Kevin was a little disappointed afterwards with his 300kg total - he clearly has the ability to do 310 now and 320kg within 6-12 months, but a combination of early morning lifting, heat and travel meant this didn't happen.

One of the big learning's we have had from this trip is not to underestimate the effect of lifting early in the morning and it's something that will have to be borne in mind for future internationals.

Kevin did everything he could to offset this - he trained first thing in the morning all week, got to bed early each night - but your body-clock is a delicate mechanism. Coaches and athletes need to be able to make adjustments to their expectations for performance, even if they have prepared extensively for an early morning start.

We had an hour until Cathal weighed-in for the 85kg 'B' class, so Mike did a training session for his competition on Sunday morning. Once Cathal was weighed in we headed down to the warm-up area to secure a good platform to find that one of the previous men's classes was still on.

As it turned out, their group wouldn't end until 20 minutes before Cathal's class was due to start, and as he was first up we were considering starting the warm-up in the training hall. Thankfully we found a platform in the warm-up area that was free and commandeered it.

Cathal's warm-up went perfectly - he was in good shape physically and very positive about the competition. The new weight class suits him far more than either 69kg or 77kg did and I think 85kg is where he will make his best performances.

Cathal opened up with 117kg and nailed it. Cathal's snatching had been far more consistent in training of late and you could see it in his warm-ups and on the platform. He took 121kg for his second attempt and nailed that as well. This was a 1kg PB in competition - doing that under the pressure of a European Senior Championships is no small achievement.

He felt a slight twinge in his elbow on the attempt however and opted to take 123kg. A little wariness of the elbow meant he was never really in the hunt for the 123kg attempt, but he pulled it high and close - he'll do this and more very soon.

The warm-up for the Clean & Jerk went excellently too. Cathal finished up with 145kg in the warm-up area and due to a last minute change by the Cypriot lifter, there was only 90seconds between this lift and his opening attempt, about two minutes less than we had planned for, or than was ideal.

Pro that he was though, this didn't faze Cathal - he opened with 150kg and made it easily. Thankfully there was 3 lifters before Cathal's second attempt with 155kg, so he had a little time to rest and regroup.

The competition area was very warm, especially for lifters from Ireland who are used to a more temperate training climate and it was starting to show. Cathal was sweating a lot and was visibly flushed. We were keeping plenty of liquids in him, but he was looking a little hot under the collar (literally.) I offered to fan him down with a towel, but he was focusing on his next lift and didn't want the distraction. In retrospect I don't think it would have made enough of a difference anyway.

Cathal went onto the platform, confident for his third attempt. The Clean was good, but as he came out of it two of his fingers slipped off the bar. He had to readjust the bar on his shoulders twice and as he did it rolled in onto his neck. Just as he was preparing to drive for the jerk, his eyes flickered he dropped the bar, and hit the platform himself a split second later.

Dr Mike Irani was the Doctor on duty and ran on stage immediately. He put him in the recovery position and got him to lie down for longer than Cathal felt he needed. He'd blacked out for only a few seconds, but he hit the ground hard. Dr. Mike kept him there for a minute, then helped him off stage

The cause was probably a combination of a lot of things, with overheating being the major issue. As soon as we got him off the stage we tried to cool him down. Dr Mike had a much more effective solution than fanning him with a towel - he grabbed a bottle of chilled water and poured the lot of it over Cathal's head. It did the trick and Cathal looked revived straight away.

He was due to follow himself with 155kg, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. As soon as I saw he could walk off the platform I put the bar up to 156kg. This would give him a break while three lifters took either first or second attempts with 156kg, if he felt he could continue.

Of course Cathal was sure that he would, as I'd thought. Less than five minutes after passing out on the platform in the middle of a 155kg Clean & Jerk, he was back out for his final attempt with 156kg. Cathal put everything he had into it - the Clean was efficient, perfectly done, but looked tough. Despite this Cathal jerked well off his heels, got through and secured the bar overhead.

Three white lights and the gutsiest lift I've seen an Irish lifter do anywhere, home or abroad. I've never seen an Irish lifter as popular after an international competition either - officials, other lifters and coaches all came over to congratulate either Cathal or me on his performance.

Two very good performances from two great athletes, neither of whom have reached their peak yet. I hope we'll see them both on the European platform next year with bigger totals and better results.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great Report. Well done all!
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Location: Dublin

PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stuff!
"He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is stronger"
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