First Attempt

First Attempt

By: James Tatum

This is probably my favorite blog I have ever written. The emotion and excitement I feel when reading this reminds me of why I love weightlifting! I originally wrote this on MDUSA’s blog on 6-4-2015.

Nationals 2015.

I am in the warm up room I just completed my last warm up snatch of 140kg. I am sitting in the chair waiting for my weight to be loaded and my name to be called. My coach put a jacket over my legs to keep them warm. A bar drops on the competition platform and I hear cheering. I check my thumb tape. Take a sip of my pre-workout and swish it around my mouth. It is sweet and just taking a sip is energizing. “Load the bar to 145kg for James Tatum’s first attempt.” My hands are dry and covered in chalk. A light sweat is covering my forehead and shoulders. I feel slightly cool from a draft. I am so focused that my gaze can’t be broken. “Bar is loaded, James Tatum is the lifter.” I throw my jacket to the ground, stand up make sure my belt is loosely around my waist, knee sleeves pulled up. I am ready. I walk out from behind the curtain, up the stairs, and onto the competition stage.

I check the weight on the scoreboard as it comes into view, 145kg. I have 56 seconds on the clock. I check the bar, 2 reds, a green, and the competition collar on one side. I walk to the other side, 2 reds, a green, and the competition collar. I walk back to the middle, I acknowledge the judge to my right, middle, and left. The room is empty to me now. I let out a fierce growl, tighten my belt, and step onto the platform. It has begun.

37 seconds left on the clock. I approach the bar, putting the end of my shoe laces directly under it. I find my focal point on the other side of the room, straight forward and slightly up. I bend over and spin the bar with my right hand. It spins smoothly, and the knurling is sharp. It digs into my fingertips as I complete the spin. I grab the bar about 1 inch outside of the knurling ring with my right hand. I rap my thumb into the hookgrip and loosen the tension in my hand. I grab the bar with my left hand now, at the same distance out from the knurling ring. The 30 second timer beeps. I lock in the hookgrip. I now lower my hips to my starting position, glance at the clock, 27 seconds. My heart rate is increasing. “COME ON!!! Easy weight, Lets go” I remind myself out loud. I rotate my elbows and loosen my arms. No hesitation. 21 seconds left. I raise my hips and loosen my whole body.

I quickly lower my hips down to my start position, while tensing up my back, then PUSH with the legs! The bar comes off the floor easily as the sharp knurling digs into my hands without slipping. The tension in my back holds true as I raise my chest and my knees move back out of the way of the bar. I see nothing. My knees move forward and I lift my chest as I am demanding the bar to move into my hips. The finish happens so fast I have no memory of it, just a feeling of practiced control, precision, and speed….then back to reality. I am under the bar elbows locked out, chest up, head through, and balanced. I waste no time. I stand up.

I am staring at the middle judge waiting to hear the down signal. I hear the unpleasant buzzing that tells me to put the bar down. I allow the bar to come forward and down as I move behind. THUD. The bar hits the platform. The tension in my body is released. I know it was a good lift. I hear the people in the room again as well as my coach, clapping for the performance. I waive at the crowd in appreciation for their support. I turn and see 19 seconds on the clock, frozen after I started to lift the bar, my name, and the weight 145kg. I feel my heart rate again. . . . . . … Three white lights pop up a few long seconds later. And the announcer says “GOOD LIFT, for James Tatum at 145 kilograms”. I let out a sigh of relief and now I am determined to do more. I calm myself down as much as possible to save energy for the next 2 attempts.

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