Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arthur Drechsler, Lost Battalion Hall and the New York City Open

The New York City Open Olympic Weightlifting Competition was held on Saturday September 26th. Although a bit too close to my last competition at the Conn. Open in August, I was very excited about traveling down to Rego Park, Queens NY and seeing the famous "Lost Battalion Hall" or LBH for short (pictured above in the second photo).

Also, I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Arthur Drechsler, former Olympic Weightlifting World Record holder and Coach of Team Met-Elite at the New York City Open this Saturday (pictured above at the top right of the top photo along with members of Team Met-Elite). I own a copy of his "The Weightlifting Encyclopedia", or TWLE, for short and brought it down to the meet for a signing for which Arthur was extremely gracious and appreciative. This is by far my favorite book on the sport and one that remains on my kitchen table. It truly is an Encyclopedia, with no frills, a small font and over three hundreds of pages of practical information on the this great sport. I have yet to complete it but have made great progress in working through it in a non-linear fashion by choosing topics of immediate interest that then lead to other topics.

After I completed my snatch attempts, Arthur asked that I stick around at the end of competition as he had some suggestions to implement in my training.

Here are Arthur's suggestions:
  • OHS, OHS, and then more OHS. The overhead squat must be mastered and made to feel natural and strong in the bottom position
  • The fleshy inside of the elbow joint where the bottom of the biceps attached, must face outwards. The bar must be pulled like taffee during the entire OHS and catch of the snatch.
  • Practice, practice, practice with and without a an empty bar, dropping quickly and completely vertically into the jerk split bottom receiving position. All five toes of the back foot should be pushing and cushioning. This motion of quickly pushing directly vertically down mush be grooved into neural-muscular memory.
Here are the details of my meet warm ups and competition lifts:

Snatch Warm ups (kg):
20 x 2 x 5
40 x 1 x 3
40 x 1 x 2
50 x 1 x 2
50 x 2 x 1
55 x 1 x 1
60 x 1 x 1
65 x 1 x 1
70 x 1 x 1

Snatch Meet Attempts (kg):
70 Power Snatch: Good Lift
73 Squat Snatch: Good Lift
75 Squat Snatch .. out front: No Lift

Clean and Jerk Warm ups (kg):
20 x 2 x 5
40 x 1 x 3
50 x 1 x 2
60 x 1 x 2
70 x 1 x 1
75 x 1 x 1
80 x 1 x 1 Missed jerk
80 x 1 x 1
85 x 1 x 1

Clean and Jerk Meet Attempts (kg):
90 Squat Clean: Good Lift
95 Squat Clean, Missed Jerk: No Lift
95 Power Clean, Missed Jerk: No Lift

I traveled down to Riverdale in the Bronx a day early to hang out with my second cousin who I hadn't seen in twenty years. I knew combining visiting relatives would impact my performance but in spite of it I did just okay. I power snatched my first snatch attempt of 70kg easily and then proceeded to get quickly under 73kg for my best heavy snatch to date .. in fact a new PR. I was too slow getting under 75kg but that's going down soon. Mike Shoretz and Dave Almeida two former Excel weightlifters who took charge of my warm ups and deserve a lot of credit for 73kg snatch .. after the 70kg power snatch they were emphatic about me just getting under the 73 and I'm glad I did.

I was off in my c&j missing 80kg in the warmups and got very concerned about it. Fortunately, Mike Shoretz did a great job of calming me down .. a few minutes later I tried it again, made it and then an attempt with 85kg. He convinced me to stick with my opener and I made 90kg .. but it was tough as the clean recovery seemed much more taxing than usual. I decided to go for broke but I missed 95kg badly on my second attempt with a squat clean that took too much out of me in the squat recovery .. it seems I lots some leg strength but I know I'll get it back. On my 3rd attempt with 95kg, I just power cleaned it to avoid another tough squat recovery and missed the jerk out front. As a result, I repeated my total of 163 from the Conn open by shifting 3 kilos from my c&j and adding it to my snatch.

The other Excel lifter that made the trip down to LBH, the seventeen year old Alex Gordon, was very, very sharp making his opener 75kg snatch and then a very easy looking 80kg for his 2nd attempt. He went for 85kg on his 3rd attempt and caught it a little out front and had to ditch it. His c&j opener with 90kg looked like it was a bar warm up. He then smoothly with a perfectly straight back, squat cleaned 95kg and jerked it easily. He then went for 100kg on his 3rd attempt, got under quickly but just couldn't recover. This kid just needs to gain some weight (he weighed in at paltry 79kg) and he will easily do more. With a nice 175kg total he took 1st place in the 85kg. I was shocked when my name was called for 2nd place but its not my fault that the weight class was the weakest by far of the final session. Even so, I did have to beat two other competitors in the weight class to earn "runner up" so it wasn't a total gimme. As a result, Alex and I did the best we possibly could have in representing Excel.

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