Wednesday 16 June 2010

Wednesday's withered lifting

I am now back home after my weightlifting odyssey in the States. I trained today and it went as swimmingly as I could have hoped. I was weak as a kitten, but it was nice seeing Wayne and Zag again. I was telling them how jet-lag was not a problem--and then I trained...Uh oh. Here is a link to my first interview taken from my stay in Average Broz gymnasium:

For the first time since I started this blog, I am not sure about how to write about the experience because it went beyond weightlifting. I learned a lot in regards to weightlifting in both California and also in Vegas, but I really enjoyed myself in the process and it was in meeting so many interesting, fun and genuinely nice individuals that will make my trip a powerful and indisposable memory. What people don't understand is just how generous both the guys out in California are and John Broz is out in Vegas. I have spoken about Glenn and David out in San Ramon in length, so I will focus more on John in this post.

People's perceptions of John lack both accuracy and credibility. Some people think of him as an extremist and that all his lifters use enough gear to help them fly. I refuse to be naive enough to igmore the possibility of drugs, but people fail to realise it is simply an opinion, not a fact. There is a difference. Last year, I met John Broz by complete chance and after training in his club, I thought it would be fun to interview a man who loved weightlifting and strength even more than I do. John has dedicated most of his life to both and is incredibly passionate in helping his lifters as well as other people who ask for his help. I have visited on two occasions now and my good friend Cathal Byrd--don't tell him I called him that: it is embarrassing for us both--has also visited him:click here to read his report.

Both of us found him to be a generous and genuinely top guy who is a charismatic character in our sport. I can see how he can rub some people the wrong way with his brash manner in dealing with the USAWA, but he is a man who will do anything for his lifters and he has always strived from day one to set international standards for them; he has deliberately avoided most local and national competitions which bucks the trend to get competition and platform experience. It is not my place to explain his actions and I will not presume to answer for him, but there are answers that that go beyond the presumption that Pat Mendes and Rob Adell are taking copious amounts of steroids. Sometimes an assumption is made that says more about the people making it rather than the intended recipient--the temptation is to use the word "victim" but John and Pat are certainly no victims; they have made their decision and are happy to face the consequences.

I still do not really know how to relate my experience. John helped me technically and I spent a good bit of time both with him and his lifters. People ask me about him and the first thing that comes to mind is that he is just a really nice guy who I get on well with. How great a weightlifting coach will be decided in the future and this is a challenge that he seems to revel in; many of his lifters make similar gains, but with Pat and Rob the starting points were different. Pat walked into the gym with a 230kg Back Squat and a 200 odd Bench Press. Both himself and Rob had been weight training since they were thirteen, going as heavy as they could. This kind of training and "genetics" are incomprehensible to most people. Most people assume that without gear, training twice a day is impossible over the long run. In my interview above, Jessica is plainly not using and she maintains this schedule despite having an injury history before taking up the sport. Sometimes expectations set from the beginning alters a person's thought process and therefore their mental and physical ability to learn. All good teachers and coaches know this. Irish expectations are too low. We all know this and this is why we are making a collective effort to improve.

Over the next few days I shall release my series of interviews that I took with different people who train in Average Broz so that an overall perspective can be gained and not just a focus on Pat and John. Are you going to be one who makes an easy assumption or are you going to think for yourself and reflect on more than numbers?


Harry said...

"We are only constrained by the bounds of our ambition and our willingness to make sacrifices in order to reach our goals."

If someone hasn't said that already, they should. Great post.

Rob said...

Barry, brilliant post. Since we will likely never meet face-to-face, I can only assume that your combined geniality and humble approach to a personal olympic weightlifting journey have facilitated these incredibly candid interviews, and their insights into commitment, performance, and larger life lessons.

For this I thank you.

Best wishes from Canada.

Anonymous said...

Great post Bazza me man but I have a request..

MORE DONNY SHANKLE!! (the voice of God)


Anonymous said...


Good post. Looking forward to the rest of them. Great to meet you.

Breyen (Made in Wisconsin)

Barry said...

Glad you like the interviews, but they are going to get better,


andymurphy said...

the only way they can get better is if you have more interviews with donnie shankle

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