So as previously mentioned I began GS training or kettlebell sport training 8 weeks ago. Myself, and my training partner Brian Del Greco (who also turned out to be my stiffest competition in the 80kg weight class) decided to just sign up for the meet, train like maniacs and just see what we could do.
Time was limited so we basically hit it hard six days a week, always striving to improve our numbers. We only had the 24kg international grade bell's at the time so we were basically maxing out almost every session as far as reps and time goes, which is risky, but we just wanted to test the waters and see how far and fast we could progress. It actually worked pretty well for us and knowing we were going to be competing in the same weight class made each training day like a mini competition in itself, which made for some intense sessions!
So July 24th arrived and we made the long 13 hour drive to Michigan, it was me, Brian and my lovely wife Sarah making the trip. Sarah wasn't initially going to come with us, but decided she couldn't miss the meet in the end, which was huge not only because the 24th was her birthday and she spent it in a car for 13 hours with two wisecracking kettlebell lifters. Also because without her planning, organizing, filming, photography and nursing skills (patching up our torn hands between lifts) I don't think we'd have made it through the day. Thanks Sweetheart.
I'm getting sidetracked here, supposed to be talking about the meet. I have to start by saying that even though this was my first competition, it was just unbelievable! Ken, and his team just put on a wonderful event.
The venue was great, having it in the hotel we were staying made things so much easier, we just woke up strolled across the hall and we were there.
The competition couldn't have run more smoothly, it worked perfectly with 7 or 8 competitors lifting at a time and 5 minutes between flights, which gave competitors approximately an hour to recover and prepare between lifts, it was perfect.
Being rookies we really didn't know what to expect, but we were just overwhelmed by how welcoming people were to us. Everyone made time to socialize and pose for photo's with us and even offered support during our lifts. I've competed at a high level of competition before, but this environment was like nothing I have ever experienced. The competition was fierce and yet you'd see people who'd just finished their 10 minute set cheering for someone competing in their weight class in the next flight, which just created and unreal atmosphere!
The icing on top of this deliciously constructed cake came with the presence of some of the top athletes in america and the world turning out to support the event and some even taking part. You had Ken Blackburn, Catherine Imes, Marty Farrell, Andrew Durniat, Scott Helsley, and VALERY FEDORENKO, I mean are you kidding me! When Brian an I saw Fedorenko walk in, we just burst out laughing, we were just speechless, couldn't believe we were seeing the legend up close. These are the people i've been watching and studying to this point and now I was mingling with them watching them lift and had the honor of performing my long cycle in the same flight as Scott, Andrew, and Marty. It was just mind blowing!
Based on this event, the future looks bright for the sport of kettlebell lifting. As a competitor I couldn't ask for more. It was just littered with inspirational performances like Scott Helsley's 50rep long cycle...so close, Marty coming back from surgery, Ken and Catherines top notch chair press demo, Andrew Durniat's unbelievable display of grip strength, our friend Amanda Beard (the bad ass), Eric from Toronto, the ice chamber girls and their impeccable technique, Liberty Gray hitting 10mins with the 24 on the long cycle was just awesome, Sean and Prentice from Chicago, those guys rocked it. The list goes on and on. Sorry if I missed anyone, it would be just as easy to say that all who attended should be proud of how they carried themselves and performed.
Thanks to the IKFF/NAKF and all the organizers of this meet for putting on such a phenomenal event and to everyone who showed up and gave it their all for making this just a wonderful experience.