Qualifying for the British Olympic Weightlifting Championship…

by Ben Ross

This is a short blog of how in my last comp, I managed to overcome a big mental block from unexpected sequence of events. Funny how things work out isn’t it?

My last comp was the regional championship for London & South East England. This was defiantly the highest profile comp to date I had done as the venue was bigger, the equipment better, much stronger lifters who had to qualify just to be there and officials to double check your weight as well as drug testing.

I had been very dedicated with my nutrition going into this championship, I was leaner, lighter and stronger then I have ever been before. Needless to say this gave me a huge mental edge as most of you know so much of lifting is in your head. Weigh in went as smoothly as expected, a light 66.7kg for my under 69kg class. As soon as I had weighed in it’s off to get my breakfast in.

I sit down and tuck into my chicken, pepper and cous cous, having to force most of it down as I never really have an appetite before lifting. Looking around seeing other competitors eating sandwiches, crisps and flapjacks….

90 minutes after weigh in its off to the warm up room, find myself a platform and begin going through my warm up procedure, I’m feeling good at this point. The warm up room is quite quiet and all the lifters have different ways to prepare, every now and again you catch someone looking at what I’m doing or vice versa.

I warm up quite quickly and am keen to get going, most defiantly the pre-workout kicking in. I warm up a bit too quickly and am ready to go about 15 minutes before I am due to lift, I decide to slow it down before I over cook myself. A short while after I began to re-warm up, this was a massive error.

My second warm up never felt as good, lifts felt labored and sluggish,  I missed a few warm up lifts and start to stress out, this made me miss a few more. My last warm up lift is 80kg; in a few minutes I would go on stage and do 90kg as my first attempt. I miss the 80kg warm up, my head is a mess, a combination of a badly timed warm up and nerves start to kick in. If I miss my first 3 lifts I get disqualified from the whole championship (referred to as “bombing out”). The lifter before me does just this, more pressure.

My first attempt is a 90kg snatch, I clear my head, grasp the bar as wide as I can, and just before I lift I remind myself I had done 10kg more than this is training. This works a treat, I throw it overhead catching it perfectly, the over head squat is easy, the feeling of relief floods my mind.  I then go on to miss my next two lifts at 96kg. As you can imagine I’m pretty pissed off at this point, but was just happy I got one lift in after that horrific warm up.  I’m sure I just blew my chances of qualifying for the great British championship and any sort of podium.

The comp then moves onto the second lift, the clean and jerk.  This lift was 100% my nemesis, I could almost snatch the same weight I can C&J, this is very odd. I had never done 110kg before, 109kg easy, 110 impossible. I had formed a complete mental block about this weight. I knew if I still wanted to qualify for the Great British champs I would need at least 115kg.

First C&J was 105kg, no problems at all. Second lift I ask for 110, I don’t let the thoughts of the countless times I have missed this weight enter my mind. The clean feels great lands a little high on my shoulders and squashes my windpipe slightly. I stand up quickly and give myself a few seconds to adjust the bar on my shoulders. I drive the bar above my head I catch it a little low and stager with the bar over head. Mid drive above my head I caught myself thinking “ah crap, I didn’t drive enough and have lost it” instantly I think no way! Keep pushing up. 2 out of 3 judges give the lift so it passes, I was happy I had finally got that weight, but felt lucky do have done it wasn’t smooth at all.
My last clean and jerk had to be 115kg, a weight I had never even attempted to clean before let alone put it above my head. Before I had any time to dwell on this thought I hear the announcement, “Bar is loaded, if Ben gets this lift he will qualify for the Great British Championship!”  As if I didn’t have enough pressure anyway!
I dust my hands with chalk, take a few stamps on the ground to get me fired up and walk through the door to the stage.
I hear the roar of the crowd as I walk out and can pick out the familiar voices within it. I just look at the bar as I walk towards it, making sure I don’t look at the large crowd that’s amassed. I run through the motions, toes under the bar, strong grip, sit back and take a deep breath, at this point the crowd is silent.
I sit up and pull as hard as I can, the bar hits my thighs perfectly and I drop to get under the bar, it lands heavily on my shoulders, the squat feels good though. Standing up with it I let out a roar of aggression. I let the bar settle, take a deep breath and dip and drive the bar overhead punching hard, I catch it perfectly overhead. I take a few steps to recover and hold the bar tight to keep everything still waiting for the buzzer, it feels like lifetime.The buzzer goes, I’d done it. I release the bar to the floor and give an emotional cheer with arms stretched out, I take a second to absorb the crowd’s cheers, and it feels amazing. Months of strict training, all the travelling to various gyms and eating perfectly weighed food has paid off.

I walk off stage into the back and am fired up! I take a seat and try and comprehend what I had just done, I feel a rush of emotion run through my veins, almost like pins and needles all over.

Not one but two personal bests, achieved qualification to the great British champs and overcome a massive mental hurdle.

A great day indeed.

Below is a video of that last Clean and Jerk.


115KG @ 66.7kg BW

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