On the 31st of March 2016, the IUKL finally announced a trial of women’s long cycle lifting at an international competition of theirs. Whilst Ketacademy had been fine for women to do long cycle in their grand prix events, IUKL were further behind. Traditionally in Russia, women had only been able to snatch. Despite strong women’s long cycle lifting in various national level competitions in the UK, Europe, and the US.
Due to the qualification from OKSE Harrogate, I was eligible to compete. After the late announcement, and the qualification criteria then needing to be decided by each national kettlebell organisation, the English team were able to be four strong. Myself and my coach Anna from Box Bell Fit, and Tracey and Helen from Momentum Kettlebells. All Berkshire athletes too 🙂
It was also another new country to visit; Latvia. The husband kindly agreed to juggling our holidays around these competitions so I was able to compete and we got time to explore countries we would perhaps not otherwise have thought of visiting. Latvia only (re)gained independence from the USSR in 1991 so is a young country in some respects. However, Daugavpils is very soviet. It actually looked more like we expected areas of Saint Petersburg to look. Except, as we learnt when there, they had already gone back to their imperial buildings and reclaimed the old name as soon as they could.
Talking with a local in Riga (after the event) we learnt that the area of Latvia where Daugavpils is located is still 90% Russian, which accounts for the language spoken. And they don’t even all receive Latvian TV signals!
The competition was held in a large sports centre within walking distance of the hotel. Weigh in was originally slated for 5-8pm but we learnt from some Americans heading back to the hotel already that we could weigh in earlier so were able to register and complete all formalities by about 3:30pm. Handy for eating 🙂 The IUKL gentlemen handling this were courteous and were concerned we’d be OK being weighed in by them. We had been pre-warned. And anyway, the youngsters in their underwear (from other nationalities) kind of broke the ice 😉 My very limited Russian (I thanked them) seemed to go down well too! Now I just need to learn more…
The women’s long cycle trial was slotted in after the junior competition and before the main grand prix events. So lifting was to be around 4pm Latvian time on the Saturday of the two-day event. We ended up getting to the venue early afternoon as most of us were feeling the nerves. Our long-suffering supporters were probably bored by this but it did allow us to set up a couple of English flags and watch the end of the juniors lifting.
There was some consternation over the temperature in the hall. Not so much for lifting as I’d been training for it on the advice of my coach (lifting in a conservatory in the sun anyone?!) but our official tracksuits were a bit stifling. All of us did some warm up and stretching (without tracksuits), and then we had a mini opening ceremony. Anna and I took part as Helen wanted to focus on lifting (I wanted the distraction as I lift better when I don’t overthink it), and Tracey had done it before. I’m not sure of a lot of what was said because it was either Russian or Latvian (or both) but it was pretty cool to be a part of it.
I was lifting in the first flight, as was Tracey. We were lifting in the 16kg one arm long cycle event. No bodyweight categories or age categories applied. Helen was lifting in the flight afterwards in the 20kg one arm long cycle, and Anna was due up a few flights after that doing 16kg double long cycle.
I was able to chalk my bell and get it ready straight after the ceremony. Then I had a last nervous wee (really, why do nerves do this?), and was lined up ready to be led out. I was quite glad it happened swiftly as waiting all day had been bad enough. When you’ve got to this point you’ve done all you can and you just want to get on with it.
My set started well. My coach wanted 130 reps from me and my training had been geared to that. And until minute 6 I was on pace for it too! I was incredibly pleased with how well that first half of the set felt, especially as my left is my weaker arm. I kept the pace going and had gone into a really good rhythm. Sadly, I was then slowed down by an older judge (not the one counting my reps) who came over and complained about my fixation so I had to hold the bell overhead longer. He had a fair point for a handful of those reps. But unfortunately, they then picked up on any slight movement. As a consequence, my flow was interrupted and so I intentionally slowed it down to ensure the overhead hold was counted. I still managed 123 reps, one less than my personal best, but would have liked a new record. I know, never satisfied! Still, I lasted the full ten minutes, and got a good count!
Team Mates’ Sets
I was unaware of the reps of my competitors during the set, and even after it. People were asking me how I did and where I’d come whilst I was sat on the floor trying to breathe and get my heart rate under control 😀 I also had no idea of how Tracey had done, but it turned out she had got enough to get her ranking which was her aim! Once I’d regained some semblance of composure I went and shouted for Helen. She was also slowed down for fixation reasons, so at least I wasn’t singled out.
Finally for England, Anna was on the platform and did excellently with double 16kg bells. She also was a few reps down on the targets she’d talked about beforehand, but again, the judge had slowed her down. Us women going for it clearly scare the Russian judges 😉
Once the flights were completed there were medal ceremonies scheduled before the men’s grand prix long cycle kicked off. First up they announced everyone by name and gave us all a commemorative medal for being a part of these trials. They didn’t make it clear that this was to be followed by proper medal ceremonies so I was a bit unimpressed. As it turned out I’d done well, and I wanted that effort recognised. For all the pain, effort, time, and energy I’d put into this event. Let alone the cost of travelling there.
Thankfully, as I was whingeing at the hubby, they called my name and Tracey ushered me up! I’m proud to say I won a gold medal despite no personal best. I know other lifters who could have beaten me, but in terms of the competition on the day, I lifted the most, and as the second lightest competitor with the 16kg bells. I’d also put in a performance I was proud of. Twice in international competitions I had managed to do that so I’m pleased with how I’m learning to focus too. It’s been a pretty awesome year in that regard!
The trial was a thoroughly successful competition for England with three gold medals and a ranking score. It was also great to spend time with teammates and spouses/partners who were friends. We had an excellent night at a Russian restaurant after the event and even tried the Latvian speciality of Black Balsam. Yet were still fit to see the sights next day 🙂
There was further good news, with the IUKL looking to extend women’s long cycle as shared by the AIKLF (who also sent a good number of long cyclers to the trial):
#ladieslongcycletoo #ladieswholift #longcycle #длинныйцикл