Worlds are over. Hard to believe I’m already on the other side. The entire experience flew by and my goal was to live & love the crap outta every minute of it. I think I succeeded. Without sounding too cliche, competing at Worlds changed me. Not in a ‘I can add this to my resume” kind of way either. More like a “I see myself, my sport, and my goals differently” kind of way. Naturally, because I am chatty and emotional, I wrote a novel about it so, grab a coffee and settle down for a few minutes.
I was anxious leading up to the competition but most of that had to do with the logistics of the whole thing: fly alone to Finland with all my lifting gear, food & calibrated body-weight scale in my carry-on. Stay in Helsinki for a few days to get over jet-lag, relax, and monitor weight. Lug 800lbs of luggage on the train to Salo the morning of competition, do not eat or drink too much in order to make weight. Check into hotel, dump luggage, then go straight to venue for weigh-ins at 4:30pm. Compete that evening, try to PR and have the best performance of my life. Right. No biggie.
I was lucky enough to be staying with my teammate & friend Andrew Lutzuk. We did some low-key touristy stuff in Helsinki (see my Instagram), cooked macro-friendly meals in our rented apartment, did lots of stretching while listening to lounge music, and took loads of selfies. Our other Epicentre teammate and Sub-Junior lifter, Jake Navarra, had arrived a few days ahead of us to compete and we watched his session (and many others) on the live stream. In short, Jake KILLED IT. He won gold and set 2 World Records. The kid is a monster. Watching 16 year-old Jake stand atop the podium and knowing that we, at Epicentre, had a major hand in preparing him for that moment was satisfying/mind-blowing/made me wanna cry like a baby. We’re incredibly proud. Truth be told though, watching too many of the lifting sessions online was also a little draining (the stress! the drama! the excitement!) and we were glad not to be in Salo the whole time.
On meet day, as per usual, I didn’t sleep a wink the night before. I got up, checked my weight and prepared my food & water for the day. We caught our train on time and arrived in Salo just after lunch (by “lunch” I mean 200 grams of rice cakes/peanut-butter/honey and 4oz of water). Walking into the venue was the only time I felt really nervous – seeing the set-up, the crowd, the cameras, all the flags of the countries hanging up. Shit got real, as they say. Shortly after arriving, I was whisked downstairs to weigh-ins by Team Canada assistant coach Carla Ramsay. I’ll never forget sitting in line waiting for weigh-ins with all the other athletes in my class – knowing that I was there amongst the best in the world, all of us in our countries’ colours, and listening to the sound of the deadlifts from the men’s previous session crash into the floor above us, and the crowd cheering. Strangely, the anxiety I felt disappeared and was replaced with sheer happiness – I was really there. I’d made it. I belonged there. I took a few deep breaths and decided I was going to smile, have fun, and enjoy my day no matter what. I made weight with oodles of room (61.42) and headed upstairs to the warm up area to eat, meet head coach Avi Silverberg to discuss the plan, and then start warm ups.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical of the coaching process going in and wasn’t sure how things would unfold. Any doubts I had melted away after meeting Carla & Avi. They were right there for me the whole way, giving me all the right cues and keeping me focused. Even though I wasn’t in the running for an overall medal, they made me feel like a powerlifting-VIP-princess and gave me all their energy and support. I can’t thank them enough. Their job was to coach me to my best performance on that day, and I am fully confident that they did. Did I hit all the numbers I had planned? No. I missed my 3rd squat (my squat has actually gone down in the last 6 months but more on that later), the plan was to go for 72.5kg on my bench (I did 70) and I wanted to hit 182.5kg in the deadlift (I did 180). 180kg was a still a National Record though, and it put me with 4th place for that lift which was both exciting and disappointing to come that close to making it onto the podium. However, as a powerlifter, you learn really fast that what you do on your best day, at home in your gym, with good sleep, low stress, and perfect circumstances isn’t necessarily what happens on the platform. In the past, I’ve let mistakes in competition like technical errors or lack of focus haunt me for weeks, and I’d torture myself over missed lifts, losing sleep over what I felt I ‘should have’ done and replaying what went wrong. Not anymore though. On June 12th, in Finland, on a Worlds stage for the very first time, under those conditions, I believe that I gave my very best and I’m very proud of my performance. I walked out of the venue with my head held high and a smile on my face. (Also, as a side-note, there was a part of me that was just plain relieved that I hadn’t bombed or completely wigged out so…bonus!)
I have to mention my Team Canada teammates as well. Even though we’re all spread out across the country and rarely meet in person (if at all), I felt as though we were a cohesive unit on the ground in Finland. I was shocked when I walked out onto the platform for my first squat and heard a group of people shouting my name. I just wasn’t expecting it. My heart grew 3 sizes right then & there (like the Grinch!) and I felt I was part of something bigger and more important than just my 9 lifts. Representing my country on the Worlds stage was an honour and I was lucky enough to share it with incredible lifters who also happen to be sincerely good people. Canada is becoming a real force on the Worlds’ stage – our team had multiple podium finishes and I can’t wait to see what our lifters will achieve in years to come. Go Canada, go!!!!!!!
I spent my last 2 days in Finland hanging out and chatting with the best powerlifters & coaches in the world, eating like it was MY JOB, and watching the other lifting sessions. It was INCREDIBLE. The lifting was amazing but it’s the sportsmanship I witnessed that left a lasting impression on me. I saw medal-contenders high-five-ing and cheering for each other (even if it meant they were getting beaten) and the crowd cheering for every lifter regardless of country – and I mean CHEERING. It was wonderful & heart-warming. I felt like we were one big, connected, powerful family. Like the Kennedys….except less good-looking….and addicted to ammonia.
So, now it’s over and I’m home. I arrived on a Monday night and went right back to work the next day. Apparently, the best way to get over jet-lag is to pretend it doesn’t exist. Oh, and caffeine helps. Lots and lots of caffeine. My attention is being swallowed up by the upcoming move & expansion of my gym, Epicentre Training. While I was training for Worlds, I was also trying to secure the fate of my business and get a lease signed for this summer (I signed the day before getting on the plane for Finland…’cause that’s how I roll). It’s exciting & stressful all at the same time. I’m slowly transitioning back into a full training schedule and working on healing my hip. What started with a slight hip impingement last year has spread into a full-blown hip disaster. My hip flexor, glutes, IT band, hamstring, SI, low/mid back are all affected now and my squat has actually gone down as a result. Knowing that I squatted 137.5kg with ease in competition back in January and then only getting 130kg at Worlds is a tough pill to swallow but I’m doing everything I can (including rest) to remedy the problem. I’ve decided to compete internationally again but only in December – I’ll be going to the Commonwealth Championships in B.C. With the gym move/expansion, my rehab plan for my hip, and a trip to London in September all on the calendar, it’s not realistic for me to compete before then, and quite honestly, I’m a little tired! I’ve been pushing hard since last fall and I am looking forward to dialling the intensity back for a while and slowly building back up.
I want to thank my friends, family, Epicentre members/clients, and all of my followers on social media for your incredible support leading up to, and throughout Worlds. Knowing that so many people were rooting for me gave me the extra push when training in the gym, and gave me confidence on the platform. I am forever grateful.
And with that, the door is closed on this chapter. As we say here in Montreal – Suivant, Next!