Follow by Email

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Yes, my CrossFit friends,Technique, it matters


Those of you who know me, know that there are many things I LOVE about Crossfit , yet there are something's that just completely irk me. The CrossFit community has done some pretty novel stuff with competitions involving weightlifting- the ideas are good, and I just wish we that would further improve the execution.

Ths article points out both positives and improvement opportunities with CrossFit competitions and is meant as constructive criticism as I love CrossFitters, work with them, and am, at times, hired by these athletes to help them grow and improve.

I will give you my visceral reactions to the last regionals, positives, myths to change, and recommended solutions.

CrossFit people are tough so , please, accept the gift of feedback and use it to get even better.

First, take a look at this video from Crossfit games South regional Event 5- max snatch:

https://www.facebook.com/CrossFitGames/videos/911809868860872/ or find it on the CrossFit Games page, it looks something like this:

The Visceral reaction: ( please be open minded, the goal is amelioration, improvement)

Personally, I was completely  shocked with how poor and UNSAFE most of the technique was for a REGIONAL LEVEL competition- ie these athletes could actually qualify for the CrossFit Games.  It looked like one of the athletes  split snatches so they can touch one knee to the ground to help them stand up with the weight. Another athlete drops to their knees and tries to stand-up. Another tries to do almost a snatch grip power clean and press.  

We have taken an otherwise very safe lift, called a snatch, and bastardized it to the point that these lifters can be doing significant spine damage.

How does any of this even qualify as remotely being a snatch? In thrusters, no foot movement is allowed when thrusting the bar overhead . How can we let people fall to the ground and stand-up with a "lift" and call that a "snatch". 

 The best analogy I can make is : It's almost like watching a baseball game and a pitcher throwing under hand and hitting the batter in the head each pitch. It's the Wrong movement and disregards safety.

The CrossFit community is ultra-supportive, in this case, to a fault, as many are cheering-on potentially spine-breaking fails.  This is false bravado.

And - this false bravado doesn't pay:
Notice, that the athlete that won the snatch competition, Jenn Jones, had better technique than maybe all but one other competitor in the video. As you may have read in my previous articles, good Olympic weightliftingshoes  technique is not a "nice to have" to succeed in CrossFit , it's mandatory . It will reduce your WOD times and reduce your injury rates.

There are some many simple good things that CF can do to advance both the Crossfit and weightlifting, that it pains me to see some of its improvement opportunities being celebrated as wins.


I am an optimist, there are some positive things we can talk about first.


Positive things:
ON one hand, I applaud Crossfit for eliminating some of the stuffiness and subjectivity in Olympic weightlifting judging. For example at US Natiional meets, lifters who bobble their lats or wiggle their arms might get called for a pressout, even though lateral are motion, shoulder motion, lat motion, etc.. are not considered press outa. I have even experienced this myself. I happen to be blessed with incredible flexibility and mobility. As a French orthopedist told me, my genetic constitution is “hyper lax” (baby, I was born this way) -- my ligaments enable me to hit difficult positions like racking the bar , bottom position, or save lifts(I’ve abused this talent with my American Open injury).  In the past, I had saved lifts turned down ( I’m feeling this trend is changing looking at some of the butt-ugly lifts that passed in the American Open W69kg A session I lifted in last December, at least my saves look good).

In summary, crosffit competitions don't penalize you if you have a little arm movement, which makes the game more fair and more exciting.

But, has CrossFits relaxation of snatch standards gone too far? Yes.

Change the Mythology -The opportunity to improve:
The relaxation of snatch standards is related to the cultural identity of the CrossFit community. The behaviors and beliefs that are prevalent in the CrossFit community help support the acceptance of unnecessary risks.

Many people in the community make excuses for the poor technique citing time constraints, fatigue, and efficiency.  The community has created mythology surrounding weightlifting technique. Let's bust some these myths.

MYTH 1: CF athletes are more fatigued by the time they get to a snatch ladder, therefore their technique will be worse
REAL Olympic Weightlifters train in Fatigue conditions. We train to get better as we get tired. If you take one of our Risto Sports seminars, you'll understand exactly why. And to summarize, you need to train when you're tired so your lifts become like reflex reactions, just like Chuck Norris doing a round-house kick. 

In conclusion, someone doing a CrossFit WOD should actually have better technique as they get tired.

Perhaps, if they competed in snatch events in actual weightlifting shoes, they would also feel less fatigued. I just watched Abigail Guerrero of CrossFit Guerriers , who placed 4th at last years Canada East Regionals , do a WOD involving rowing and thrusters in her wood heel weightlifting shoes. 

MYTH 2: CF athletes don't have enough time between reps in a max snatch event
A decent snatch takes less than 3 seconds. A well trained athlete should rest less than 90seconds between sets. In Crossfit, they have about 30seconds to do the rep? That is plenty of time to set-up and lift.

MYTH 3: CF athletes have invented new techniques to do reps faster
Sorry, there are thousands of studies going back to the Soviets on optimal weightlifting technique . With heavier weights, you will need to do a real snatch to maximize you're lifting potential. Some of the women in the regionals video were jacked-up and huge- like could press me over their head with 1 pinky-and I could still out snatch them.

Myth 4: these athletes know the risks, if they are risking injury with bad technique they know it and accept it

Repetitive stress injuries are interesting . Sometimes athletes will have a serious catastrophic injury with little or no onset. Our bodies joints, bones, tendons, ligament, are analogous to trusses and building joints in civil engineering. You can stress a joint below its ultimate strength over and over again, and one day it can just fail.  Don't you think it's a little odd that someone whose body looks as amazing shape as Julie Foucher snapped her Achilles just doing a box jump?  Or that Kevin Ogars spine broke in a sub maximal lift.   
 
Doing a little bit of bad technique over and over again over long periods of time can lead to sudden failure. The athletes with ugly snatches  in the CF regionals video, above, are , in the long term, sacrificing their spine. 

The injuries in Crossfit are much different than in Olympic weightlifting. Most of the catastrophic ( ie needs surgery) weightlifting injuries are after near maximal 1rep efforts, especially when a lifter is trying to save a lift. And, most of these injuries happen to joints like knees, wrists, and elbows -- NOT the spine.  There are very few spine injuries in Olympic weightlifting , particularly among the Olympic medalist level. ( see my article discussing the Ogars injury versus Olympic Gold medalist , Matthias Steiner, who walked away, unharmed from dropping 200kg on his neck.

In other words, since many of these catastrophic injuries are happening overtime, athletes might not realize what they are sacrificing.  More education is needed.

MYTH 5: Weightlfitng technique takes years to master, so this is the best these athletes can do given how long they've been in the sport

That is both true and untrue. Having perfect technique like Ilya Ilyin takes years. Having good technique , for people with CF regional level of conditioning, takes weeks or months .

Most of the great CrossFitters have done other sports before CrossFit, they are athletic enough to do a muscle up , an overhead squat, or hand stand walk, they should be athletic enough to do an ok snatch. If regionals athletes are serious about getting to the CrossFit games, then they need to be able to do a nice snatch-- Not necessarily an Ilya Ilyin level snatch, but something that is not going to break their spine.


Recommendations ---solutions:
There are some pretty simple things we can do to make the CF world a better place.

1. Get a real  weightlifting coach to teach you technique
Start with someone whose lifter has medaled at a national competition, and , preferably, has  worked with countries that have great technical lifters.  You may need to try several coaches or find a distance coach depending on where you live.

2. Any WOD involving snatches, cleans, jerks, thrusters, or squats should be done in weightlifting shoes that have good stability, not lifters and especially not nanos 
Wood heel. Do not get shoes with a rubber and small plastic heel. Avoid brands where people look like they are hopping around in the shoe, because the shoes are so unstable. There are enough YouTube videos of people in neony-plasticy-vinyl-y shoes to see that people wearing these have way more foot movement and ankle wobble in their Olympic lifts. 

3. Master your technique before doing any lift for time
In general, learn how to snatch with the bar as close to you as possible, with the least amount of swinging before venturing on to more than 5 repetitions in a row. 

4. Use the same definition as a snatch as the IWF, AND add specific guidelines for press outs
The IWF has been around for almost 100yrs and has one of the lowest injury rates in Olympic sport. They might know something, ehhh?  If we can set clear rules on what a thruster is, then we can do the same in the snatch.

Perhaps, CF can make positive change in the weightlifting world by using the same guidelines , with the added bonus of clarifying level of press out that is acceptable. For example, allow any subtle arm movement, and turn down lifts for presses from bars caught at a 90 degree elbow angle or less.

In closing,  please Take this article as positive feedback on how to make the world a better place for crossfit and weightlifting.

Wouldn't you rather take the time to learn how to do a real snatch than break your spine?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kazakhstan Weightlifting- Part 4 training and food

 When I think of the food in Kazakhstan, i think "no wonder why these athletes are so strong".  (Reference www.ristosports.com )

If you eat with a Kazakh family or even at a Kazakh restaurant, you can find a diet high in protein. There is usually an appetizer of some sort of meat like chicken or horse meat cold cuts, and a final course centered around another meat like horse meat.  I , personally , don't eat horse meat; so, in Kazakhstan, I wound up eating a lot of easier lamb or beef , which are much easier to find than chicken.  

In my personal opinion, I really enjoyed the Kazakh food the most (that excluded horse meat) It's weightlifter food - grilled meat. Home cooked Kazakh food was also very good, including the desserts and salads.

I did also try Uuygur food. It was delicate stir fries in thick sauces . This was also extremely good. I did like the Russian food, slightly less than the Kaakh food.
Uuygur dishes- beef on noodles, beef empanada like dish, greek salad (no lettuce, ie real Greek salad) . They only had 2 chicken dishes and probably 15 beef or lamb dishes. In America, we'd probably see this as a goid thing.

Russian chicken dish with cheese sauce, only place that had pork on the menu

The Kazakhs meat diet is a reflection of the fact that most Kazakhs are Muslims. Horse meat is considered a "clean" meat because horses graze in pastures and drink clean water. On the other hand, pork is not eaten as pigs are considered dirty animals; for example, they do not eat as clean as horses and are known to roll in their own feces.  Pork, consequently, is very hard to find in Kazakhstan. You can find it in Russian restaurants , whereas most of the Russian population are Russian Orthodox Christians. I, again, stress that there is great sense of religious tolerance in Kazakhstan, just don't expect to order bacon at a Kazakh restaurant.

The ethnic Kazakhs also drink copious amounts of unpasteurized animal milks.  If you go a little bit off the grid, you can find Kumis, horse milk, and camel milk in flea market like bazaars. These milks taste salty with a bit of a fermented taste. The consistency is more like whey than creamy cow milk.These milks vary greatly from bottle to bottle. It indicates that these animals have a more natural diet as the consistency between flavor is all over the place ( eg maybe some of the lactating mares ate more grass than hay, etc).
Bottled Kumis

It is important to note that the Kazakhs love and respect horses so much that they eat them, which is pretty much the opposite reaction that an American horse lover would have.  I get the impression that it is similar to the relationship between Native Americans and buffalo.

The food is very natural. I don't think they have genetically modified Monsanto wheat, thank God. I found I could eat wheat and dairy products with far less negative effects than in the USA. This was a good thing as mist of their carbs came from wheat or potato products. It was difficult to find rice, corn, or other gluten free complex carb sources. 

What is also interesting is the lack of coffee. An average restaurant will not have coffee. The population relies on tea--- and its not fancy bubble tea or diffused loose leaf tea, most of the tea is simply bagged tea, like you'd see in the UK or America.  The tea was average strength, not like something you'd drink in Taiwan or China. The best tea I had was at the Peking palace, a Chinese 5 star luxury restaurant. 

You can find coffee though. There are western style cafes in the city. Most of them can be found in the large malls , which are something of an architectural achievement, specifically, the Khan Shatyr ( pictured)


 Some of the Russian restaurants will have Expresso drinks.

If you consider powdered coffee to be coffee , you can find powdered coffee in supermarkets and some non-Russian restaurants will serve powdered cafe.

When I think of Kazakhstan training, the first thing that comes to mind-- 

I have never seen such a variety of assistance exercises used at the beginner level.  More than any other system I studied, I saw youth and junior athletes doing deficit cleans, snatch grip deadlifts, bench press, back extensions, and modified pulls.  Again, I stress that these were beginners and not elite Olympic level athletes. There  is a focus on getting athletes strong , building their fundamental strength , in preparation to take heavy Olympic lifting training at the upper levels. Check out my youtube channel , to the right , for videos.

Much like the USA of 5 years ago, there is zero influence of Crossfit in the Kazakh weightlifting community.  None of the lifters have even heard of it(sure, except for , maybe, the one athlete who has been giving seminar tours in the USA ).  The sport grows in Kazakhstan because participating in sports is considered a fundamental right of the public, hence all training centers are free and staffed by paid coaches, paid by the government. 

This is almost the complete opposite of the U.S. System , where athletes promote themselves for practically unpaid sponsorships. In Kazakhstan, Weightlifting makes no money for the federation, unlike sports such as boxing. In effect, the federation has to pay out a lot of money on the sport. For example, the youth nationals LG competed at was normally a 5 day event; it was squeezed to 3 days, in part, due to venue costs. Good thing the Kazakh weightlifting team is widely successful on the international stage.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kazakhstan Part 3, and ethnograph


Kazakhstan- land of the mythical winged horses ridden by Kazakh warriors , and large palazzo's to display this iconography
When we arrive at Astana, the airport is small and modern.  It is incredibly clean and is about the size of Ottawa Canada’s airport, another small capital city. Most every sign is in Cyrillic with some signs having English subtitles.   Almost no one speaks English in the Astana area.  Foreigners leaving the airport have to fill out a tiny slip of paper, which looks to be simply printed off of a laser jet. The transfer slip is about 4 inches by 2 inches, and you must scrawl answers to simple questions like “purpose of visit”, “number of children traveling with you”. Fortunately, the wording is in both English, Kazakh , and Russian. I had to re-fill out mine about 3 times because it was ambiguous as to whether the answers were to be put in the column directly next to the question or in another column off to the right.


You could tell that they don’t get many Americans passing through Astana.  The officers knew basic commands in English only related to their job.  So, filling out the ambiguously labeled form involved a short cycle of rework.  

 It was also interesting as my daughter, who is a minor, and my husband, and myself all had to go 1 at a time to the customs window. It is probably the only country I have been to where families do not go to the customs window together.  We were all asked if we had a Visa, despite that the Visa requirement for Americans had been waived  during the time period we traveled.

It is a very short walk from the passport control to the exit of the airport.  At the time, Astana was about the same temperature as Boston, maybe even warmer.  It seemed Astana was having a slightly warmer winter than normal, and New England was having a colder, snowier winter.

The roads from the airport to Astana’s city center are wide and well lit.  We enter the city down a wide promenade like highway, lined every few feet with tall highway  lamps lighting the path to the center.  The city is clean and organized.  As we would find through out the trip public spaces are very well taken care and meticulously cleaned.

 
Our training hall and the site of the 2015 Kazakhstan National Youth Championships is in Aramay Training Center- a large, clean, somewhat modern public training building.     It was about a 5 minute walk from our hotel.  It is in the older section of the city, a few miles from the gleaming downtown.
Lifters training at the Astana, Kazakhstan weightlifting hall after competing at Youth Nationals. You can see posters of Ilya Ilyin training here

People walk fast in Kazakhstan, probably because the temperature is in the single digits (F) most of the time.  Many people wear fur. Most men, especially Kazakh men, have fur hats. Women often wear full length fur coats with hoods. Most people wore dark color, especially black pants.
 
For the most part, lifters and coaches at the training hall are very friendly and kind.  The coaches are respected, and they shake eachothers hands every time they enter the training hall for the first time that day.   The male athletes also greet the coaches with handshakes.  Ivan was included in this fraternity of coaches . There were few female athletes, so not being sure what to do, I did not partake in the hand shaking ritual. 

There is a great sense of respect for all ethnicities and religions.  There is a sculture dedicated to peace between all religions ( above) at the bayteret tower (its like their George Washington  monument) People are very curious about culture and ethnicity.  In America, people love to ask you what your ethnicity is, especially if you have an interesting look. In Kazakhstan, people also want to know your religion.  Knowing we are Catholic, it is quickly pointed out to us that there is a Catholic church right in front of the training center.  About 60% citizens of Kazakhstan are ethnically Kazakh and Muslim, and about 40% are ethnic Russian and Russian orthodox Christians.    In general, Russians speak Russians, Kazakhs speak Kazakh and likely Russian, and any other ethnicity probably just speaks Russian.  Many people think that Ivan is Muslim because he has a goatee. Not sure if anyone assumes anything about me; though when they ask me about my ethnicity, 100% say I look Italian (pretty much every where I go, except America, do people agree I look more Italian than my other ethnicities. I think some Italian Americans have a pissing contest over who looks more Italian).  Its pretty funny how having facial hair in the USA is synonymous with Americaness, being manly, being muscular, and really isn't associated with anyone religion or ethnicity when you juxtapose it to Kazakh Muslims having facial hair. 
 Next... Food
 
 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Blog cited in Breaking Muscle

Check out this article by www.breakingmuscle.com . It cites my 2014 post that analyzed the Ogar incident at a fitness competition in which many of our crossfit friends took part http://breakingmuscle.com/functional-fitness/kevin-ogar

According to burpeezoid.com , Ogar is now walking after being paralyzed- pretty amazing !

Popular Posts

Snatching 92kg at the Risto Olympia Cup

Snatching 92kg at the Risto Olympia Cup
This was the 2nd highest snatch in all of the USA for 2014 in official competition for women's 69kg weight class. The only athlete to snatch higher was Jenny Arthur with 98kg. Gwendolyn Sisto lifts for Risto Sports, the premier weightlifting company in the world. The Olympia Cup is held in conjunction with the Mr Olympia in Las Vegas, NV Join us in 2015! Gwen is lifting in all Risto Sports apparel and weightlifting shoes.

Carlos Andica training with Coach Ivan at Risto Sports

Carlos Andica training with Coach Ivan at Risto Sports

Risto Sports: Official Sponsor of USA Weightlifting

Risto Sports: Official Sponsor of USA Weightlifting
USAW national team member in Risto Singlet

Ivan in the Warm-up room with the Andica Brothers

Ivan in the Warm-up room with the Andica Brothers

Arnold, Carlos & Joni Andica in Front of Risto Sports banner

Arnold, Carlos & Joni Andica in Front of Risto Sports banner

Risto sport's Leidy Solis- PAN AM Champion 2009

Risto sport's Leidy Solis- PAN AM Champion 2009
Leidy in winning form, wearing her Risto weightlifting shoes. Congratulations Leidy!

Oscar Figueroa,Olympic Silver Medalist, World medalist, approves of Risto's

Oscar Figueroa,Olympic Silver  Medalist, World medalist, approves of Risto's
Pictured at Salitre with Oscar Figueroa in center. We will be proudly be sponsoring Oscar with a pair of Risto shoes.

Exceeding expectations - www.ristosports.com

Exceeding expectations - www.ristosports.com
Classic weightliftng shoe design with modern accents

In the Risto shoes

In the Risto shoes

Coach Jonny Pan AM champ

Coach Jonny Pan AM champ
Afternoon coach, doing pwr cleans while his lifters finish up

More wild custom shoes

More wild custom shoes
note pawprints

Abs

Abs
More on Facebook

Custom Weightlifting shoe

Custom Weightlifting shoe
Made to customer specifications, detailed embroidery

Custom Youth Sizes available!

Custom Youth Sizes available!
Little Gwen wears these for technique work in the gym. She also likes to match mommy and daddy in the gym. Lifting time is family time!

Bucharest Training Center

Bucharest Training Center
Ramanian Coach Doru, Ivan, Romanian Lifter Eiza

Nikolai Stoichkov- JR Bulgarian Lifter, son of Zdravco Stoichkov

Nikolai Stoichkov- JR Bulgarian Lifter, son of Zdravco Stoichkov
Training with a pair of Botev shoes. These shoes take a beating of 18000 to 20000 reps per year and heavy loads 90-100% - Also known as the Bulgarian system.

Custom Singlets too- Made to Order

Custom Singlets too- Made to Order

Future Champion- Tough lifters wear pink!

Future Champion- Tough lifters wear pink!
Gwendolyn Rojas getting ready to snatch 60kgs at 20kg bodyweight and 4 years old.

Stoichkov in Action

Stoichkov in Action
Coach Stoichkov adjusting my starting position.

Ivan giving training advice in Frankfurt Oder

Ivan giving training advice in Frankfurt Oder
Here Ivan, as a coach, is giving lifting advice to German Junior lifters at the Olympic Training Center in Frankfurt Oder, Germany. Yes, Ivan is fluent in German and is speaking German to the lifters.

Coach Ivan Rojas

Ivan Rojas is my coach and husband. Since training with Ivan, I have went down 3 weight classes while exceeding my prior best total (acheived while training by myself as a junior vs with proper training under Ivan).

During the 80's, Ivan trained extensively as a coach and lifter in former Eastern block countries as well as Cuba.


Working out with the Champs

Working out with the Champs
Gwen squatting wth Georgiev, Peschalov, and new lifter in background

Training in Bulgaria - Gwen and Coach Zdravco Stoichov

Training in Bulgaria - Gwen and Coach Zdravco Stoichov
Stoichov is coach of Peschalov, Georgiev, etc. Also of key interest: Similar to USA lifters missing out on their chance to medal at the 1980 Olympics , at the time of the boycotted '84 Olympic Games, Stoichkov outlifted the LA Games Gold Medalist at the Friendship Games/ Druzhba Games. The Druzhba Games were held in 1984 by Eastern bloc countries not participating in LA.

Ivan with Nikolai Gergov, Bulgarian Wrestling Champion

Ivan with Nikolai Gergov, Bulgarian Wrestling Champion
Ivan with the Greco wrestling world champ, Nikolai Gergov, after their workout. I still think its uncanny how elite athletes from multiple sports would just show up at Slavia for a workout (....and atleast one ask for lifting advice). Again, overall, Bulgarian athletes were humble or, rather, didn't "have an attitude" in the gym.

Gewichtheben - training at the German Olympic training center in Frankfurt am der Oder

Gewichtheben - training at the German Olympic training center in Frankfurt am der Oder
Me with the German Junior Team and Coach/German Olympian Lars Betker

Coach Burgener Shoe

Coach Burgener Shoe
Portion of all sales got to Charity. A perfect shoe for our CrossFit friends! A wonderfully patriotic, Americana themed shoe and T-shirt. GO USA!!!

Gwen posing with Peschalov

Gwen posing with Peschalov

Stoichkov during competitive years

Stoichkov during competitive years
Vintage photo of Stoichkov winning international Championship

Rumy, Bulgarian lifter

Rumy, Bulgarian lifter
Rumy,75kg lifter, stops by for a light workout in Slavia, Bulgaria

Botev stops by Slavia

Botev stops by Slavia
Gwen, Stefan Botev (multi-time Olympic Medalist and world champion), and Ivan

Gwen with Power Clean/slpit jerk with 80kg

Gwen with Power Clean/slpit jerk with 80kg
First workout in Slavia.

Size perspective for youtube video

Size perspective for youtube video
In Beijing, junior lifter

Ivan and Eric, the speedskater

Ivan and Eric, the speedskater
After a hard work out, Ivan and Eric go summertime cycling in Maine. Eric is a competitive Speedskater and a proud owner of weightlifting shoes. Ahhh ...nothing like summers in Maine!!

Stefan Georgiev

Stefan Georgiev
World and European Champion, 62kg. Rooting for him to medal in the 2008 Olympic Games!

Hanging out with Weighlifting heroes

Hanging out with Weighlifting heroes
Peschalov, Stoichov, self, and husband

Old Stuff - early Risto Weight lifting Shoes

Old Stuff - early Risto Weight lifting Shoes

Peschalov and Coach

Peschalov and Coach
Peschalov trained with Stoichkov leading up to his Gold medal win in 2000 Olympic Games

Training in Kennedy, Bogota

Training in Kennedy, Bogota

Euvgeni Popov, Stoichov, and Gwen

Euvgeni Popov, Stoichov, and Gwen
Popov - 1980's Bulgarian weightlifting team, also accomplished power lifter and strongman competitor.

Beijing - Gongti Area

Beijing - Gongti Area
Gwen lifting at second training location in Beijing near Workers Stadium, Gongti

Sylvia, Bulgarian Junior lifter, wearing Botev shoes

Sylvia, Bulgarian Junior lifter, wearing Botev shoes
Schoolage Champ, one of Stoichov's newer lifters. Sylvia also trains in Botev shoes. Her pair is also several years old and has lasted over 18K reps per year!

Romania - Training Center in Bucharest

Romania - Training Center in Bucharest
Me trining with Romanian lifters in Bucharest. Former USAW National Coach, Dragomir Ciroslan, had once lifted in this gym.

Wrestling World Champion (Greco) Nikolay Gergov working out in Slavia (BG), me in background

Wrestling World Champion (Greco) Nikolay Gergov working out in Slavia (BG), me in background
Nikolay Gergov is a Bulgarian Wrestling World Champion - Greco Roman 66kg category. Nikolai is already naemd to the 2008 Bulgarian Olympic Team. He is also competing at a meet at the Colorado Springs US OTC later this month (FEB 08). Anyhow, Nikolai just stops by for a workout in Slavia. He saw Ivan and I working out and asked Ivan for some technique coaching.

Gwen with Chinese coach of junior team at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang (Beijing)

Gwen with Chinese coach of junior team at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang (Beijing)
The coach pictured with me had won a gold medal in the snatch lifting against Karolina Lundhal (world champion) at the 1998 Worlds in Finland in 75Kg class.

Lifters in Bucharest

Lifters in Bucharest

Ivan with Coach Chiu, gongti area Beijing

Ivan with Coach Chiu, gongti area Beijing
After discussion of Chinese pull technique. Chiu is a former Junior World Champion.

Good Leather Smells good

Good Leather Smells good
Really, this was a Candid photo..."wow, this smells good", says Little Gwen

Ivan Lifting in China - 2006

Ivan Lifting in China - 2006
Chinese training center, Chao Yang Ti Yu Chang in Beijing, a JR team pictured in background

Choayang Ti Yu Chang - Ivan with chinese junior lifters

Choayang Ti Yu Chang - Ivan with chinese junior lifters

Abigail Guererro, Almerimar, Spain 2004

Abigail Guererro, Almerimar, Spain 2004
In forefront, Abigail , who has been on the Spanish National Team, with teammates in background.

Me with Blessed Udoh, in Spain (DEC 2004)

Me with Blessed Udoh, in Spain (DEC 2004)
Blessed won the silver medal in 48kg at the 2001 World Championships representing Nigeria. She also trained in Bulgaria for the 2004 Olympics. Sadly to report that she died in Nigeria, last year.

Gwen lifting at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang - Beijing,

Gwen lifting at  Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang - Beijing,
In Beijing, Chinese Juniors in background. Great kids, good sense of humor, listened to their formal coaches

Spain- Ivan and Miguel Borrazas

Spain- Ivan and Miguel Borrazas
Our good friend Miguel has coached Spain's national team.

Training Bogota

Training Bogota

Ivan with Coach Ediberto Barbosa, fmr Col natl team

Ivan with Coach Ediberto Barbosa, fmr  Col natl team

Mock Competition in Bogota

Mock Competition in Bogota
Gwen out snatches the challenger

Rick Bucinell, breaking master world record in Risto's!

Rick Bucinell, breaking master world record in Risto's!

Ivan arm wrestling Peschalov

Ivan arm wrestling Peschalov
My husband "attempting" to arm wrestle Peschalov with his good arm. Ivan remarked "Wow, he's strong..he was really trying to arm wrestle me" ..no kidding ....ha ha ha

Belts, singlets, knee and wrist wraps. Custom styles available

Little Gwen doing workout with new lifters

Little Gwen doing workout with new lifters

Team USA with Risto donated gear at 2010 University World Championships

Team USA with Risto donated gear at 2010 University World Championships
Me lifting for Team USA. We won 15 medals, Ivan was Assistant Coach to Team USA. Risto Sports donated gear such as USA polos and t-shirts. Got to represent our country well!

Risto Sports,Order at:

http://www.ristosports.com/
info@ristosports.com

(207) 319-7607

Training, shoes, singlets, knee wraps, belts, straps
Eliot, ME

Tanya Morillas - 2004 in Spain

Tanya Morillas - 2004 in Spain
Training session at Almerimar. Subsequently, Tanya has been on Spanish national teams.

Dare Alabi , 77kg lifter (Nigeria)

Dare Alabi , 77kg lifter (Nigeria)
Nigerian lifter, Dare, lifting in Spain

warming up power cleans

warming up power cleans