JOURNEY TO THE WRPF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Stuart Jamieson
So here I am, just a few weeks since the biggest competition of my life and as I write this, I begin to reflect on my journey through powerlifting and the pride I have in the sport. You see, as many of you will know, powerlifting is a sport that consists of incredible sacrifices and I don't mean just through the financial cost of competing alone but through the blood, sweat and tears poured into the lifestyle. The many variables of powerlifting such as training to peak for competition, the stress of making weight for those of us in the lighter weight classes, overcoming injuries and hitting the numbers we aim for in each workout even when outside commitments such as work can get in the way.. it's enough to drive the average person crazy!! But it’s our compulsion to lift, our obsession of personal progress, our relentlessness that keeps us coming back for more and I am extremely grateful for everything that it has given me in my life so far.
Rewind the time back to June, 2014. I had just returned from competing at the IPF World Championships in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the time, this competition was my biggest achievement as I got a bronze medal in the deadlift with a successful lift of 225kg at a body weight of 58kg. I should have been happy with my performance but truth be told, I wasn't. I didn't achieve what I set out to do and failed my final lift of 235kg with no gas left in the tank to complete the lift to get the silver. Overall, I finished last out of 8 at that competition and this really didn't sit well for me. It was my first international comp but I never felt like I was able to show what I knew I was capable of. As months rolled by, I aimed my sights on the GBPF British Championships in October 2014 but due to injury, I could not attend. This was a big disappointment for me as my lifts grew again and again and I felt ready to hit that platform and showcase it all. It was at this point I told myself that I would return to competing in 2015 and my goal was to hit the platform so hard that it would leave people wondering 'where the f**k did this kid come from?!'.
When 2015 arrived, I entered my first competition of the year, the BPO Scottish Championships which was to be held in Dumbarton on the 7th February. The training leading up to this comp was perfect! It just all clicked and each workout, the numbers were hit and with plenty more to come. I did full power at that comp weighing in at 59.2kg and had personal bests on all 3 lifts with 170kg squat, 90kg bench and deadlifted 275kg. That was the first time I had ever attempted that weight in and out of comp so when it came up as good as it did, I was as shocked as everyone else! The atmosphere at that competition was unreal. We were lifting in Marine Craft Gym in Dumbarton with all the best Scottish lifters around all supporting each other and pushing to go further. The gym itself looked battle ready.. So many people in attendance to watch in such a contained space, it felt like a roar each time the crowd screamed with encouragement. I had never experienced any comp on that level of intensity ‘til then and I was hooked once again.
Up next was the BPO British Championships in April. I competed full power at this competition also and weighed in at the same body weight and even extended my overall total by a little too. The big one I went for in this competition was the deadlift yet again as everyone knew what I set out to do.. I had my sights on the All Time World Raw Deadlift Record which had been set by Lamar Gant 34 years ago and hadn't been attempted or gotten as close to since! I knew going into the competition that I was capable of achieving this. On my final lift of the day, the number I shot for was 287.5kg and sadly, I just didn't have it in me on the day! I moved the weight and it began to raise off the ground, however it pulled me back down as if it was bungee roped to the ground... 'Not today'.
I took some time to plan my next move after the last competition and decided to aim my sights for the BPU/WPC Grand Prix held in Folkestone each year in August. This competition was fantastic! Very well organised by a great bunch of lifters and always has the interest of its lifters at heart. Training had been less than what I would call satisfactory but nonetheless my time had come and I wasn't about to go down without a fight! With a 7 hour car journey during which time I had done a heavy water cut and dehydration kicking in throughout, I made my way through the journey to the weigh in and made it at 59.8kg. My second attempt, I went for 285kg, matching the record by Lamar Gant and finally showing everyone that what I had been aiming for was only the beginning of what is still to come.
I competed yet again this year and this time, I went for full power at the BPO Tri-Nations competition representing team Scotland along with 'oor' finest Scots lads and with all my brothers of Burns Gym. With an injury I had sustained before my last comp, I wasn't feeling optimistic to say the least. I had torn an intercostal muscle, so my training up to this meet was awful! I couldn't pull anything above 70% of my max and squatting had started to become painful too so I had felt pretty low going into this one but that magic week off prior to the meet worked a treat and I finished with a 185kg Squat, 101kg Bench and 270kg Deadlift. I was delighted! I even got pretty cocky and gave an attempt at extending the record another go with a 290kg final deadlift but once again it glued me to the floor after a very brief moment of ascent. Now I had just 5 weeks to prepare for the WRPF in Moscow, Russia with a list of elite lifters that would have any proud powerlifter buzzing with the anticipation of sharing the platform with these greats let alone being considered to be one of them! Training had yet again began to worry me with my injury affecting anything maximal from being obtained so I took the risk of allowing two full weeks rest before competing to allow some level of recovery. During this time, I had worried about the prospect of what I would be able to achieve there. It weighed on my mind but I did not allow it to dictate any of my decisions. Those two weeks flew in and before I knew it, I boarded my plane to Moscow and arrived with just a few days to spare before the comp. Everything was set and the preparation up until this point throughout the whole year had taken its toll on my body but my mind was ready to go! On the day of the comp, I was pacing around my hotel room, music plugged into my ears, going through this whole journey stage by stage and remembering everything I had fought for. The time was up. No more pacing. Just the calm and quiet journey to the venue as the energy began to build inside me.
As I arrived at the venue, I worked my way around to get familiar with all the procedures at hand, the weigh in room, the warm up area and the platform. The venue and its audience were already as electric as the previous day. I had weighed in at 59.7kg and had felt just how incredible the stage was gonna be as I witnessed Andrey Malanichev break the biggest all time world raw squat with 475kg!! So here I was, about half an hour before kick off to the biggest moment of my powerlifting life and I was in the warm up room throwing plates around with some of the biggest and strongest dudes that walk the planet! Watching Konstantin Konstantinovs as he warms up and how intense the man seems through what you see on youtube isn't half as intense as he was in real life! The man is amazing to watch as he gets everyone around him to go crazy! Before I knew it, our time on stage had been called and I was first up. I opened with a comfortable 250kg to feel out how I thought my injury would hold up... 3 White lights. No issue. On to the second attempt of 270kg. I hadn't touched anywhere near this weight in training as I just couldn't. Again, 3 white lights and flew up quicker than it ever did before. 3rd attempt and I had been advised to go for 280kg but I had traveled all this way and the organisers as well as the Russian people had been so amazing with their support I owed it to them and to myself to attempt the record as it had continued to evade me of recent. Through the back of the platform waiting for my name to be called out... Nickolay, one of the organisers and a friend of mine had called on me to let me know I was up next. By this point I stood up and made my way up the stairs to the stage and could hear the crowd as I was announced and what I was attempting. I chalked my hands, inhaled my smelling salts and with one final roar I made my steps onto the platform to the sound of huge support from the crowd! The arena surrounding me looking like I had just entered the coliseum as it encircled the stage. Boris Sheiko as center judge, Ed Coan to my side, this moment was so surreal. I wrapped my hands around the bar repeating the words in my head, 'get this f**ker moving and its yours!' I began to pull and felt a tear in my lower back area immediately but the bar was moving and it continued to climb!! As it began to lift off the ground the crowd went WILD!! The noise roared and the whole place came alive with screams in many different languages! It all felt so slow with thoughts entering my head to put it back down before I snapped but if you want something bad enough, it doesn't matter the cost.. I wasn't gonna let that bar go till it physically stopped ascending! Each inch it gained, I felt more and more pressure in my back till eventually, the bar stopped dead. All I had to do was push my hips through another couple inches and I'd have had it! I held on as long as I could fighting against the inevitable fact that it was done. My back could not hold out any longer. I dropped the bar and everything went silent as I slowly rose back up to wave to the crowd and show my gratitude for their respect and support throughout. With a huge round of applause and cheer, I left the stage feeling like a winner knowing that the weight did not defeat me, it has only given me more motivation to come back next year and finish it.
With a little help to get down off the stage I changed, regrouped outside and met my partner to only be greeted at the end of the show by so many fans of powerlifting congratulating me, asking for photographs and to just talk to me. Being just a lad from a small town in Scotland, I can safely say I'd never ever experienced anything quite like it! I felt like a true athlete in every sense of the word and was treated like one throughout too. The whole time after I had finished, I got so swept up in everything happening around me that I almost forgot about the awards ceremony. As I continued talking to the crowd members and taking pictures I heard my name being shouted, "Be there in a minute." I replied not knowing who shouted me but allowing the person I was currently talking to, to take a picture with me. I turned around and saw who it was calling on me.. Mikhail Koklyaev - Champion Powerlifter, Weightlifter and Strongman - A very personal favourite of mine in the strength world for his all round ability to kick ass at all things strong! He had presented me with a personal gift from himself signed and written on it "For your brave and honor!" He gave his respect and showed me support for my performance. The experience just grew more and more surreal as the minutes rolled on! We took a picture together by the organisers and he wished me well. One of the coolest big guys I've met in this game and by big, I mean huge! Next to him, I looked like breakfast haha! Meeting Ed Coan, Zahir Khudayarov, Eric and Ernie Lilliebridge, Andrey Malanichev, Kirill Sarychev, KK, Stoyan Andreev and so many more! All of these guys were fantastic, down to earth men and the respect they showed me throughout the competition was incredible. I finished this competition placing third on Wilks Score, narrowly missing out on top spot by failing my final lift. This gives me so much drive for next year. The top two guys were deserving of their achievements on the day and it was fantastic to be able to compete against guys from all weight classes as this made for a very exciting competition. The best experience I've ever had in Powerlifting and I intend to create so many more of these lifetime memories in the new year. I hope to share many of these memories with you and hope that we share the platform one day too!
So where do we go from here... We train, we push forward, we fight and we get what we work for. See you all in 2016!