Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reflections on competition: pt 1

The 2014 ATC Throwdown is in the books. Scores are posted here, and a Facebook thread for the event is listed here. I went in, hoping to meet 6 minutes and about 25 reps, and I achieved that. I felt my launch getting low and myself arching my back to get under the bells late in the set. #25 hurt a little, so I locked straight up for a few seconds and set them down. People told me they thought I had more reps in me, but I knew exactly which vertebrae I was gambling with, and I already had the score I came for.

Something about my personal preparation for this and the nature of the weekend's meet has given me pause to think. The next few letters will be a series of thoughts instead of a single rambling article. Enjoy.

The Human Drama of Athletic Competition

The ATC's choice of only the IUKL Amateur and Professional bells definitely raised the bar. There were inquiries on the Facebook event about how to register for 20kg, even though the rules were clearly posted. 64 people were Going on Facebook, with 42 no-shows.

This event also bore more of a local feel, with half the lifters in colors from two Charlotte gyms. No Team Punch, no Ice Chamber Girls, no Team Lockout, only myself even from Team Kettleguard. This was a mostly-local crowd, lifting heavy bells together and cheering for teammates and cross-town rivals alike. For the most part, no big stars, no novices, and no casual entries. There was also a rookie at 85kg+ who tied for first in Men's 24kg LC with a great score, a perfect example of the level of commitment on display.

The competition itself had a completely different air than so many meets where where 85kg+ lifters score three digits with junior bells. Something about this seemed, I don't know, maybe "serious" is the word. There were lifters in every event that did not finish the 10 minutes, including winners.

The Men's LC scores were in groups separated by 15 or 20 points, not a bell curve or evenly distributed. They were not even related to bodyweight, which was intriguing; two of the lowest scores were by 85kg+ lifters. As childish as this may sound, just finishing in a group and above last place with 24kg was the icing on the cake for me. I've been the long tail of the curve for a long time. This felt like a big-boy event, and I was a little relieved not to be alone.

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