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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Elbow UCL Rehab for weightlifters-what you need to know

It all comes down to the triceps and wrist wraps---  Below is information that has really helped me with my UCL recovery.  You can use the information in the article to have an informed conversation with your doctor before starting a rehab program for an injured UCL.  Afterall, I'm not a Doctor- I'm just a rocket scientist.
 
It is common for weightlifters to injure their Ulnar Collateral Ligament in competition, due to hyperextension. This usually happens when attempting to save a lift backward. 

Many of the doctors who work on UCLs come from a baseball paradigm and associate it with “Tommy John”, the famous baseball pitcher who had the first ever surgery for a UCL injury in 1974.  In other words, for the average orthopedist, most of the UCL tears they will see are from baseball pitchers and will not have a lot of experience tailoring their treatments to weightlifters.
 
 Although it is the same ligament that weightlifters injure, weightlifters are using this ligament in a different manner. In baseball, a pitcher uses the UCL almost like a rubber-band in a slingshot. They load it up with tension, then release it.  In weightlifting, lifters utilize the UCL for stability in the backwards and forwards direction (in front of and behind the head).  In effect, the treatments for UCL tears need to be more sport specific especially as you enter the phase of the athlete returning to competition.

From personal experience,  I have found that the average American physical therapist focuses entirely too much on the biceps and the extensors of the forearm when rehabbing a UCL injury. When really, triceps and the flexors, I found, are at least as important, if not more, for weightlifter stability (they are antagonistic muscles afterall!).  Many therapists even prioritize shoulder and scapular strengthening over the triceps as this relates to throwing mechanisms due to their baseball centric world view.

Think about it- what happens when you are supporting a bar overhead?  Your arms are fully extended with your forearm rotated such that the thumb is in line with your ear and your wrists are fully bent backwards.  Right? So, what are your muscles doing:  the triceps and extensors are in extension, and there is a lot of load on the flexors as your wrist is bent fully backward.

Perhaps, developed triceps, flexors, and extensors will help relieve loading from the UCL. Developing these muscles, according to my French doctor as well as any bodybuilding expert, lots of repetitions with not to heavy a weight is key.  Exercises like tricep pull downs are great. The goal is bulk, here (I know contrary to much of what we do in weightlifting).


Something else that can help --->Stabilization during lifting:
This is a pre-injury photo of me with 110kg. You can see me with obly ine of my leather wrist wraps on; the wrist without the wrist wrap is bent back much further.

In weightlifting, we are not permitted to wear elbow wraps. However, the muscles of the forearm have two attachment points- one by the elbow and one by the wrist.  An orthopedist in France (the same guy that told me to work more triceps ) pointed out to me that wearing wrist wraps will stabilize one of the attachment points of these muscle groups, and may be more effective than stabilizing at the elbow. 

Physically, this makes sense as when I wear my Risto leather wrist wraps, the amount my wrist can bend backward is restricted.  This does two things: (1) it reduces loading on the flexor tendons, which will change loading on the UCL, (2) the wrist wrap is actually absorbing some of the load being transmitted from the extensors.  It's got to relieve some of the hoop stresses in the forearm.

Overall, I feel more stable with leather wrist wraps and was able to do overhead work sooner with them.
Here's a post recovery photo of me demo-ing the wrist wraps, note the better wrist angles, and you can even see my flexors bulging, illustrating how they play in securing the bar overhead.

If you get anything out of this article -- the message is work your triceps , forearm,and wear leather wrist wraps to aide your elbow.
 

Monday, December 28, 2015

USAW International Team qualification- how to avoid future team selection controversy


The Olympics is in August 2016, 9 months away. There are 10 International Weightlifting Federation Olympic Qualifiers left -- ANYTHING can and Will Happen.
There are a lot of good lifters out there who may have missed teams for whatever reason and can burst on to the scene. Just look at Charis Chan; she just broke an American Record, and,a year ago,  no one would guessed she would be a 2015 American record holder.  Or , who ever heard of Angelo Bianco before the American Open? In effect, if we really want to improve the level of lifting in the USA and have the best teams possible, then we need to have qualification systems that can handle this.

In effect, making qualification procedures that we, the USAW, can actually follow is critical.
Back in 2012,  I had written a series of articles on the USA qualification procedures, their opportunity areas, and ways they can be improved. I had done a series of posts starting with this one and part 2.

Our qualification systems are not much different than what we did in the 1990’s.
In the mid 90’s, in non-olympic years, there was one major international team for seniors and juniors. And, teams only had one or two qulaifiers, with one mandatory qualifier that everyone had to attend. The national meets would be published in a calendar and would not be changed-probbaly because no one used the internets for USAW news back then, so it would be expensive to have to republish and mail out new competition schedules.This always created a huge weakness for developing lifters, in that if a lifter missed a team, they would have to wait another year for any opportunity, and because qualifiers were every 6 months, there were no big competitions for developing athletes to prove themselves and gain experiences between years. I believe part of this was due to the fact that there were so few lifters that it didn’t matter. On the other hand, I also believe part of the system was due to political reasons, that it made the team selection very predictable and more controlled. 
So, now, 20 years later, we are kind of doing the exact samething. And guess what, our men and women teams were ranked higher internationally in the 90’s. In other words, we are doing “the same old shit” and getting less and less results.  The rest of the world is improving faster.
Minor tweaks we made to our antiquated qualification system
Ok, USAW did make a few minor tweaks.  Once upon a time in 1998, several OTC lifters did not post a high enough qualifying total to make a world team at nationals, so USAW added a secondary qualifier which actually had an unexpected affect of lifters like Suzanne Leathers and Oscar champlin making the world team.
This practice of adding secondary qualifiers with only a few weeks of notice re-emerged in the late 2000’s.  The biggest frustration is that if you don’t regularly talk with someone on the USAW board, as a lifter or coach, you would have no idea that these secondary qualification opportunities would come-up until you already decided to max out at a primary qualifier.
Since 2013, secondary qualifiers have always been added to the USAW calendar; to the point, that you could just expect that there would be some last chance qualifier.  For example, for years, the Arnold was not a qualifier , then at the last minute , it would be announced that totals would be used for international team selection as it is a drug-tested meet.  And, lifting in special trials sessions wasn’t really enforced.  Again, people like me who don’t follow USAW gossip, would not know until half way through our training cycles that there would be another qualification chance.
In 2014, it was published on the USAW website , to paraphrase, that lifters who haven’t been ranked in the previous 6 months and qualified for an international team(ie came out of nowhere) may or may not be eligible.  And, wording was added in ~2015 that lifters lifting at secondary qualifiers had to lift in special trials sessions. NOTE- in the past, anyone could enter the secondary qualifier without pre-qualifying for a specials trails session. Or, rather, special trials sessions weren’t really enforced.
 Getting to the Sarah Robles controversy and why our rules caused it
This "trials session" rule appeared to be enforced when Leo Hernandez lifted a total sufficient to qualify him for the Pan Am Games at the Arnold, yet wasn’t put on the Pan Am Games team. I would guess because he fell into the “not on the radar for 6 months” category (he became a US citizen several months before the Pan Am Games) .
A few months later, Sarah Robles, fresh off the end of her doping suspension, competes as a Collegiate competitor at the University nationals. She posts a total at a drug-tested [correction-I was informed that the University Nationals and trials sessions were not drug-tested at all] meet to make her the number one female in the country.  She did not compete in the special trials sessions, probably, because her ban ended after the US Nationals qualification period; therefore, she couldn’t compete at nationals to “qualify” for the special trials session. 
On one hand, I agree with people who say that, “its not fair that Sarah was put on the team and, hence, bumped Marissa Klingseis off the team, because USAW didn’t follow the rules the enforced earlier in the year”.   On the other hand, Sarah score the most points out of any female on the US world Team at a competition for Olympic spots AND, in prior years, trials sessions were not enforced, THUS USAW  acted predictably. In other words, it was in line with how USAW acted in past years to meet a strategic need.
This leads us to – what is the real problem (hint- its not Sarah Robles) and what is the solution!
WHAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM WITH USAW’s qualification procedures and how they can be IMPROVED
1.       Make rules we can actually follow 100% of the time

One thing I learned at MIT, is that most rules are guidelines, and the key to life is understanding when a rule is really a rule. Having special “trials sessions” is probably going to fall into the guidelines area.  We should accept totals from any drug tested meet to pick teams. Adding tricky little nuances will just lead to disputes over interpretation, so keep it simple.
 

2. Change the qualification mechanisms to Account for the unprecedented depth in each weight class

When there are only 1 or 2 people per weight class that have a good chance at making a team, its probably ok to have one qualifier followed by a hastily announced second qualifier, because you have a tiny pool of athletes and the secondary qualifier is really just for someone who bombed out or had a bad day at the first qualifier.

When you have 3 or more people per weight class who could actually qualify for a team, then things are really interesting.  Having additional qualifiers means those people lurking on the podium in second or third position, might just need another peak in their cycle to eclipse who is on top. This will in turn drive competitive results up.

As I have written at length before,  other countries which have had more success in weightlifting than the USA in the last 20 years have a completely different outlook on qualifying for National Teams.

2a. The formal method
For example, in Colombia, lifters are chosen from a mixture of results at national competitions and training results.

Lifters must compete at national championships. There are tests at the site of the national team training camp.  Lifters can show-up at the national team training camps and vy for a spot on the team

The teams for international competitions are not chosen until the very last minute.  Lifters are chosen based on their performance at training camps right before the major championship.



2b.  The lifter pool method
Countries like Kazakhstan have pools of lifters training with different teams. Athletes can make teams based on either controlled workouts (tests) at the training camps. Or, athletes who train with less prestigious teams can be selected form their results at national competitions.  Note, the athletes at the more prestigious training sites may not have to compete at a national competition at all as their training is so closely monitored and they are regularly tested.
 
2c. What might actually work in the USA
Because weightlifters do not receive a salary to train in weightlifting (as lifters do in places like Colombia or Kazakhstan), selecting athletes from just training camps might not work. what might work are frequent drug-tested events.  For example, we could hold 2 events per quarter AND make them open to anyone who posts a qualifying total at a USAW sanctioned meet.
We sort of already do this-- the issue is many of our national meets are age or demographic restricted - such as Junior nationals, Youth nationals, and Collegiate nationals. 
I recommend we make open qualifier sessions with very high entry totals at all the age/demographic restricted meets because - well most of our world team is over 21 years old and not in college.  If anything, this would make qualifying for teams more fair for people over 21 ( Yes, I said it, junior lifters have an unfair qualifying advantage over senior lifters. We had 1 female and 1 male junior lifter on our world team, they had more opportunities to post qualifying totals by virtue of their age. If you think juniors should have an advantage because of their age, then I pose to you: is there much difference between someone who is 20 and a junior vs someone who is 21 and a senior.....? )
Does this make sense? We could have a drug-tested event every  1-3 months where anyone with a big enough qualifying total can compete and get selected to a team.This would make weightlifting exciting and more interesting. Also, in ligt if the fact that Sarah Robles was selected to an international team at a non-drug tested event, USAW has set a precedent to mine lifters from non-drug tested sanctioned competitions.
 
Then.... we could even have a final selection camp only for the very most important competitions , like the Olympics. Just think about 2012 when Holley Mangold had a terrible wrist injury and still competed when any of our top 63's would have placed higher by virtue of the startlist.
And that brings me to my next point...
 
3. Set qualifying standards based on world ranking list distribution
We need to understand that totals rise and fall on a predictable cycle.  In a 4 year Olympic cycle, the highest totals are seen the year before the Olympics. The Olympics is actually about as competitive as year 2 in the "quadrennium" because the number of entries are limited.
This has a main effect:  the super-light and super-heavy weight class biases ...
In the first 2 years of the Olympic quadrennium, the 48kg class and the 75+kg are some of the easiest classes to score points. They have less depth the first couple years.
By year 3, the final Olympic qualification year, countries looking to score some easy points flood the 48kg and 75+kg class with lifters, making these classes crazy more competitive than the first 2 years, and duping countries like the USA who , basing their qualifiers on the 2 previous years, send 2 48's thinking they would actually score a lot of points. 
In the Olympic year, these 2 classes have insane totals needed to medal, that sending any lifter in this class that is not in the top 5% of totals is  basically a waste because the chance of medaling is slim to none. 
So, my point is, you can easily plot distributions of the world ranking list every year and see what quartile your lifters fall in. For example, in 2015, this would have probably shifted us to send more women in the middle to heavyweight classes than in the lowest weight classes.
For example, if Sarah Robles is able to hit Cheryl Haworth level numbers or more, then she might have a real chance of medaling in 75+kg as that would put her in the top end of the 75+ distribution (I think she can do it with her new coach ;).  Our other supers, would not be high enough in the distribution to medal ( unless they have big PR's this year ...you never know ...don't count anyone out?).

4. Announce things months ahead of time
Make a calendar at the beginning of the year an stick with it.

Any weightlifter on a real training program will train in 12 week cycles. they will peak every 3-4 weeks. In effect, timing of events are critical so cycles can be planned. This would give athletes the option to pick which qualifiers to go to , including skipping the first qualifier to go to the secondary qualifier.
Again, to be fair to all lifters, and not just those who are "in the know" of USAW gossip, the national calendar needs to be published at least 3 months in advance and easily accessible to anyone with a USAW #.
 
END TRANSMISSION




 
 
 

Monday, November 2, 2015

The evolution of weightlifting culture from weird to cool in 20 years

Are you new to the sport of weightlifting? Have you been lifting for less than 3 years?
Did you start weightlifting because after 6 months of Crossfit, you realized that you really just liked lifting more than doing the actual WODs?
Did you start lifting because strong is the new skinny?
Did you start weightlifting because it is cool?

I'm so glad I don't have to compete in a bathing suit and biker shorts anymore

Well,  if you answered yes to any of the above, you are probably in the majority of lifters these days.  Behold, you have benefited from the years of weightlifting evangelists, like myself, working to make the sport popular alongside the burgeoning enthusiasts pouring out of crossfit   (yes, I take responsibility for encouraging the thousands of crossfitters I meet a year to get a USAW card...hey, crossfitters love Risto Sports cause its underground and fair trade...its what all the cool kids are wearing before everyone else knows it's cool... )

Interestingly, weightlifting was not always cool. Weightlifting = cool is really a phenomenon of the last 2-3 years.  Understanding the evolution of weightlifting culture is not only a fun read, but it is also important to understand the sport and how to get the most out of it.

A little compare an contrast of society's attitudes towards weightlifting today and 20 years ago

Back in the 1990's, weightlifting was not cool. It was not popular. Most people would think that you were weird to even spend an inordinate amount of time training for an Olympic sport that no one in the USA cared about. If you said you were a weightlifter, less than 2% of the people you met would know what a snatch or clean and jerk was-- and they would refer to you as a "bodybuilder" or "powerlifter".

For this reason, weightlifters referred to themselves as Olympic weightlifters to help avoid any confusion with powerlifting or bodybuilding. Today, many would say that the term"Olympic weightlifting " is redundant as most people in the fitness industry now understand that "weightlifting" refers to the sport contested in the Olympics and not powerlifting or bodybuilding.

Interestingly, as the distinction of weightlifting is , now, understood as "Olympic weightlifting", the USOC , coincidentally, started enforcing its trademark on the term "Olympic". In other words, don't include "Olympic" in the name of your weightlifting focused brand or website.

Back in the 90's, your options for singlets and weightlifting shoes were extremely limited-- unless you lived in Eastern Europe. In America, when I got my first pair of weightlifting shoes, I had the option of choosing from the 1994 white and red adidas model or the 1996 white and red adidas model out of the USA weightlifting (then USWF) mail order ad.  For a very brief period, they also had ads for "safe shoes". Understand this -- the then US Weightlifting Federation (renamed USAW in 1998), sold weightlifting shoes mail order because there was almost nowhere for athletes to get them. adidas shoes were about $120, which would be about $216 today! Yes, they were always expensive. Again, we used adidas because that is all that USAW sold and adidas was a USAW sponsor at the time.

So, if you didn't like color combinations of white and red, you would basically have to call an uncle in Russia or Poland to pick-up a cool pair of old style soviet weightlifting shoes- you know the boot like ones with stripes and a strap that lifters had been using since the 1890's!  

Singlets were another thing. They were impossible to find; later, in the 90's adidas ones became more accessible at a steep price. Most people lifted in wrestling singlets. Wrestling singlets showed a lot of man-titty, so many women did not wear them unless they had a t-shirt underneath.   Women's weightlifting was not yet an Olympic sport (2000 was its debut). Most women lifted in one piece bathing suits, many with biker shorts underneath.  Today, one piece bathing suit-like singlets are coming into style for women ; it's pretty laughable since many women in the 90's would have done anything to be able to buy a singlet that covered their chest and quads.

Access to a place to lift and coaching was the biggest issue in the 90's.  There was no UFC gym, there was no crossfit box, most college and high school weight rooms did not have bumper plates. Most of the time, lifters were  coached out of 2 places : 1) some guy's garage that some how found a way to buy bumper plates and a bar by some magic pixie dust, or 2) at some sort of semi-publicly funded gym like the Wesley Center or Lost Batallion Hall or the Team Savannah center.  Most of the coaching was incredibly hit or miss. Because there was no internet, it was so hard to find a decent coach and there were so few, it was luck of who was in a 1 hour driving radius(reality check: most people didn't use the internet until 1998, people didn't start massively texting until 2009). Finally, you would be hard-pressed to find any of the information now available today on weightlifting- few books, few articles.

Gradually, in the late 2000's, weightlifting started becoming more acceptable. Crossfit started becoming the cool new thing from the west coast and helped grow a market for weightlifting apparel. And, because of the internet and the expediency of doing trade in the 2000's, companies like Risto Sports could finally offer some much-needed alternatives in footwear and singlets. 

2008 was one turning point. Companies looking to make a buck were starting to notice an expansion in the niche weightlifting market. After more than 20 years of not having a weightlifting shoe on the market (that I know of),   nike, the company known for running shoes, brought out the romaleos model.  Their initial marketing campaign was a bit laughable; with one youtube video, a nike shoe designer referred to the snatch as a "split-snatch". It is interesting, they literally sold on their brand name and having smartly sponsored Team China, which was the most successful weightlifting team in 2008. I laugh when I read bloggers referring to nike having made weightlifting shoes for a long time, as they really have only been on the market for a few years.

2013 was a real turning point. By the American Open 2013, 2 platform national meets were becoming the norm. There were far more athletes qualifying for national meets, and it became a thing to have said that you qualified for a national meet- way more so than in earlier years. The depth of the classes also went up significantly , even though the American records only budged in a few areas (time will tell on how long more members will translate to much higher level of lifting at the top). 

Women and lifting has changed. I acknowledge that you can still , today, read facebook posts about women who were told lifting will make them bulky, etc.... etc.. I will say , OVERALL, attitudes of women in weightlifting have greatly improved.

Here's an example from my life:

1990's point of view on middle school girl weightlifter:
I remember being in middle school, and people asking, "why don't you play softball", "play a girl's sport", "aren't you going to get bulky", or "that's going to stunt your growth".

2010's point of view on middle school girl weightlifter:
  20 years later, society's reaction to my multi-time National Youth champion daughter as, "that is so sick", "that's amazing", and "how do you do that".

In summary, be thankful for the amazing amount of options and positive attitudes you face as a 2010's weightlifter.  You can get a weightlifting shoe in almost any color, and even fair trade ones! You can get a singlet that covers your ass and boobs (wow, what a deal)! You can easily find a great coach, and if they don't live near you, they can coach you via internet between visits to them.  Overall, accessibility to knowledge on weightlifting has increased.

Only down side is there are way more purveyors of snake oil out there, and increased information does not mean increased knowledge.  Again, you got the internets to help you as your guide and cool knowledgeable people like me to help you network! =)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Frustrations of coming back from a career ending injury

Well, the title is self-explanatory.  Injuring yourself to the point of possibly not being able to lift anymore is probably going to be really hard to recover from.

I still don't care. I mean, I'm not like other people, so shouldn't may elbow magically heal itself in a couple months? --and I just return to lifting like a badasss.  Do weightlifters even need a UCL, anyhow?

The first month or so I could barely squat as it put too much pressure on my elbow. I even invested in the "manta ray",one of those contraptions that would let me squat practically armless. It was ok; it did shift the center of gravity of the bar ever so slightly form my normal squat line, so I would not recommend using it unless needed.

For months, I could not lift more than 5kgs over head if anything.
I tried to start actual lifting a couple times too early.

Fast forward over 6 months from injury date, when I could do almost " real" workouts, with tiny weights. What amazed me most is that there were some crazy positives and unexpected could be betters:

The positives:
My speed never left me. It was there day 1. I always thought my speed was a little bit something I was born with and mostly something I developed. I'm starting to see it as the other way around- it was something I was born with and had to unlock through training.  I was so psyched about my speed, that one day after riding horses, I stopped at a high school track-- because it was just there on my way home --- and I threw down a 13 sec 100m in horse back riding boots and breetches.  Yeah, I was pretty sore the next day; the thick leather riding boots really restrict the calf extension.  And, I did this on my rest day ; ooops, coach wasn't too happy.

For a while, everyday is a PR sort of. One week, I could only go up to a 55kg snatch without pain, the next week a 60kg snatch, etc... Sure, these lifts were well under my all time best, and it still felt good to see progress.

My legs got really strong. 

I had time and a reason to do lots of upper body bodybuilding.

I'm impressed with how much mass I put on my back and upper body since starting lifting again vs bodybuilding alone

The could be betters:
Because my legs were stronger than before injury, I  expected  to just walk up to the bar and start power snatching my max snatch--because that's how it worked before.  I finally understand why some really strong and explosive people have a very difficult time transferring their talents to Olympic lifts.  As Norbert Schemansky once said, the way to get better at the snatch and clean and jerk is to snatch and clean and jerk.

I felt two things: (1) my upper body was not caught up to my legs and (2) it was like there were all these little muscles I hadn't been using by not snatching nor clean and jerking.

I had done bodybuilding to the extent allowable on my upper body. For a long time, I was restricted to slow, controlled motions to allow the ligament to heal. The weights I was using when I started lifting , again, were pretty close to what I had done prior to injury, yet, my upper body didn't feel as strong. 

The reasons were obvious , thought:  it is very difficult to hit the stabilizer muscles the same way a snatch or a clean does.  Further, the whole energy absorption and transfer aspect of catching a lift is not duplicated with static exercises.

On the technical side, I found myself doing little compensations here and there.  When my arm was pain-free enough, I stopped all the compensation nonsense.

Final thoughts
Weightlifters have their own body aesthetic.  Its made from the pounding of thousands of repetitions.  We get this wide column like upper body, that wouldn't be the goal of say a bodybuilder,  because our bodies are functional for lifting heavy stuff from the floor to overhead.

I'm starting to look like a weightlifter, again, from the Risto training. I look forward to hitting more "PRs" as well as actual PR's.

That which does not kill me makes me stronger.
 

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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