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Monday, January 2, 2017

Thoughts on being more than just one thing, and why it may scare people

I'm tired of people telling me that I do too many things.

I'm tired of people telling me to pick a direction, because I'm pretty sure I'm aimed in one.

Its happened more than once in the last few months.

Is it wrong to want to be good, even great, at more than one thing?

Whatever happened to being a "Renaissance man"?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and throw in a pop culture reference.  I think of the movie Divergent. Actually, it was a series of like 3 movies.  Anyhow, the whole point was there were people who were "divergent" because they didn't fit well into one type of mold. Everyone had to take a test when they were 18 to see which of the 5 career categories they best fit into. People who fit into all 5 or had no strong bias for one category over another were called "divergent" and were stamped out of the system.   SPOILER ALERT: the heroine unlocks some occultish device which reveals lost knowledge, that the true goal of the society was for everyone to be "divergent", for everyone to one day be able to equally do any of the 5 careers.

Call this confirmation bias, but I kind of agree. What fun is it to be just good at math? Or just good at writing? Or just good at one sport?    Can't a person be even great at more than one thing?

I think back to the great artists of the Renaissance- such as Michelangleo and Da Vinci. Leonardo Da Vinci is known for painting the Mona Lisa.  The funny thing is, he was so much more than a painter, he was so much more than an artist.  He was an engineer, an architect, a pioneer in anatomy. Sure these things are different and related at the same time.  To paint people well, it would help to understand anatomy, even if it meant dissecting cadavers in secret when the practice was considered heresay.  To design an incredible building, it would help to understand architecture, and it would help to understand mathematics. This could lead to being able to think like an engineer- he made the first sketches of ornithopters, and he made sketches of gliders, well ahead of his time.   Michelangelo was arguably just as multifaceted.  He was a sculptor, a painter, an architect, and a poet. He was a perfectionist and mostly a self-taught painter. Again, his areas of expertise were similar but slightly different.

So, many people want to put me in a box, and I'm sure this happens to many other people too. To some, they want to see me as just an engineer. To others, they want to see me as just a weightlifter. To others, they want to see me as just an author. Some want to see me as just a coach. Some want to see me as just a weightlifting shoe innovator, etc ,etc, etc..  And I wonder why?

To some extent, society reinforces this.  I see it every time I get interviewed for a news article. It unnerves the interviewer, because they see a news story going in too many directions if they can't just label me as one thing. Many want to reduce a multi-dimensional story into a 1-dimensional narrative, something simple and digestible.

For some people, its easier for them to categorize you if you are just one thing.  It makes them feel warm and fuzzy on the inside to be able to think, "yep, this person is this category. They belong with this group of people. Done. " . Some people even seem to feel unsettled, maybe to the point of fear, when they can't neatly and simply put someone cleanly in a box. Usually, these types of people do not like uncertainty.   Though, what can I say, you can't please everyone.

For some, they genuinely think doing more than one thing will prevent growth and expertise in any one area.  And for that, I appreciate their concern.

Still,  I really think there are some people in this world that really cannot go their life doing just one thing.  And, maybe people like me are just a tiny percent of the population, and , well, I think the world needs us.  Its like that little bit of saffron you sprinkle on rice to get that something extra.
 Saffron costs more per ounce than gold; I can live with being saffron.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Goals, goals, goals, it's all about goals


I just got done with the American Open. This was the first time I went to this meet just to do a total, and not necessarily to compete. For me, being a competitor, it was a weird feeling.

Regardless, I had clear objectives for the meet, and I was not about to let something like my ego get in the way of it.

Here were my goals:

1. Qualify for the 2017 World Master's Games in April 2017
- 2 lifts, that's it. 1 good snatch and 1 good clean and jerk. That is all I need
2. Compete for first time in 2 years at a National Meet
3. Actually talk to people
-- not kidding, 90% of my competitions, I'm so focused on winning that I never get to actually talk to my friends or network.
4. Stay healthy

Stretch goals
1. Do up to 80%
- This was the preset limit for this macrocycle**. No maxxing out, no going above 80%

Super stretch goals
1.Use Jedi mind tricks to convince coach to go heavier and win a medal
- hmmm, might be counter to my goal of peaking in April
- note to self, lift more such that my 75% is the winning total at all national meets

My goal for 2017 is to win the World Masters Games and to break all the World Records.

I actually never really thought about lifting as a Master.  To be honest, when I found out that the World Master Games were in New Zealand, I was like, "sign me up!".  Let me tell you, I want to go and see the "Hobbits" in New Zealand so bad.  You know, I just spent 3 days in Orlando and could care less about dropping $100 to see Mickey Mouse or Harry Potter at the theme parks.  Now,  for the chance to see the land of the Hobbits and Lord of the Rings movies, that I will take any excuse to fly half way around the world. The actual sets of the Shire are still there!*

Now, the only qualifier in the qualifying period for the World Master Games that I was eligible to lift in was the 2016 American Open. I was simply too young to compete at any of the other qualifiers. The last thing I wanted to do was to show-up at the American Open and just train through it. I am in a part of my macrocycle where maxxing out would just mess things up.

Personally, I am a competitor. Having me go to a meet to not compete is insanity to me.  It actually took a lot of discipline and restraint to do just enough to qualify and not too much to stay within my intensity zone for this microcycle.  I even purposely registered at the minimum entry total so as not to be tempted to go heavier; it also afforded me to open way under 80%.
Platform approach for 100kg. The expression tells it all- to compete without really competing.  Nice Photo from Lifting Life by Andy Blaida. Turns out Andy once had a pair of Ristos and gave them to one of his lifters..so years later, his pair of Risto weightlifting shoes are still in circulation. 



I am sure there are people reading this thinking, " What's the point of weightlifting if sometimes you are not going to even try to lift your best".

Well, in lifting life, you need to decide - are you a competitor or are you a weightlifter? If you are a weightlifter first, then just lifting for the sake of lifting is enough. The joy of lifting the bar over your head is more than satisfying. Now, if you're a competitor, then its more about hitting specific goals. Which competitions do I want to win? Win by how much? Specifically, how much do I want to lift this year at my peak competition?

I tell you what-- going to this competition with a completely different mindset and set of stakes lead me to some learning.

Its not about where you start, but where you finish -- well, sort of not really

I can't tell you how many times I have heard weightlifting coaches say, "it's not about where you start, its about where you finish."

Well, yes and no. At a normal competition, starting 1-3% lower than planned isn't such a big deal. Most people at an advanced level can take a 4-5kg jump on their second attempt if needed.

Now, if you are in a situation, like myserlf, picking a lift >10% below your real openers, then it gets more tricky.

For example, I opened super light in the snatch.  I wanted to take at least a 7kg jump to my second attempt.  My coach, keeping goal #4 in mind, was not having that. His point of view was "Stay healthy. Just take a moderate jump and do six lifts".  Plus, there's the other dilemma of there being 30 attempts between taking a 7kg jump or 15+ attempts for taking a 4kg jump.

Well, guess what, both options kind of sucked. So, we went with the conservative 4kg jump.  I had at least 15 attempts to wait out.  I am very fortunate that, normally, I lift towards the end of the A Session and have never waited more than 3-4 attempts ever.  Waiting >15 attempts was insane.  We dropped down to like 55kgs and kept taking snatches to keep me warm.

Coming out for what was normally an easy 77kg snatch seemed ridiculous after I had been in the warm-up room over 30 minutes.  I was getting impatient and flustered. I complained to my coach that I didn't want to play this game of take one lift then sit for 30 minutes. I let my mind drift out of the Zone.  Needless to say, I badly missed my second attempt-like not even close.  It felt like missing the bar-- should just not happen.   For my 3rd attempt, I only had like 5 attempts to wait. I got my shit together thinking to myself, "Gwen, you do this lift in your sleep. Just do it".  This one was a much easier snatch, still I missed it. I was out of the zone.

This lead to some interesting strategies for the clean and jerk.

Strategy
You can control the situation or let it control you.

By the time clean and jerks rolled around, I was 50% at my goal. I had done 1 snatch as needed; now, all I needed was 1 good clean and jerk.

I was not going to jeapordize my 1 good lift for any reason, especially, being at the mercy of other coaches moving their lifters attempts up and down.

I realized I had one advantage no one else had. I've totaled 202kg before, most of the lifters in my session had never done over 180kg, and I only needed a paltry 82kg clean and jerk to hit my qualification goals.

So, how do I get control back?  1. Lowered my opener such that I would be the first person to open the session, Then, 2.  take over a 10kg jump for my second attempt.

If I opened with something ridiculously light, I could do very few warm-ups- say 4-5 reps.  Then, if I took a large enough jump, I would have 30+ attempts until my second attempt.  This would give me plenty of time to rest, then warm-up again to something a little bit closer to a real starting weight.

Well, the plan worked out incredibly well. My opener was ridiculously easy, and making it had taken all the pressure off the rest of my lifts.  I then jumped 13 kilos to 95kg (it was mischievous fun just to see the panic that ensued after I took above the expected 2-5kg jump..sorry, not sorry, to my coaching friends in the warm-up room).

I probably should have went 100kg for my second attempt.  Here's why: As planned, I had plenty of time to warm-up to 95kg. However, a bunch of coaches had then moved their athletes' third attempts to 96kg. This then put me back in the game of waiting a long time between my second and third attempt.

I opted to go 100kg as I did not want to wait to the last lift of the session if I took say a 6 or 8kg jump. Once again, I did not do so well with the long wait and racked the 100kg out forward.

Aside from using this competition as an opportunity to apply some unorthodox attempt selection strategies, it also showed me that I need to get better at real-world competition situations such as having more than 2-3 attempts between my lifts  --you never know when that situation might arise again.

Later that weekend, I watched the men's 85kg session. I was impressed with how some of the lifters , like James Tatum, waited many attempts between their first and second attempts and still came out to make big lifts.  Here's a photo of James with a close 182kg Clean and jerk on his way to winning the USAW American Open. <  Yes, he is wearing a pair of the Tiburon Risto Sports Weightlifting shoes. Yes, I chose this photo because of the perfect lighting on the shoes and its 6 red plates ...  >
Here's James Tatum winning the 2016 American Open in Men's 85kg. This was a very close lift with 182kg clean and jerk. I'm sure he'll do even more soon! Yes, he won a very tough competition in his very own Risto Sports Tiburon weightlifting shoes. Photo by Gwendolyn Sisto.
It made me, again, reflect on the fact that, yes, it would be good for me to increase my ability to hit lifts on the competition platform after long breaks between attempts.

On my other goals:
Hey, I can give myself a little slack. I posted a total at my first National meet in 2 years. I also took the biggest jump of my competitive career ever - a 13kg jump between first and second attempts-- and nailed the lift. My elbows held up just fine ( The two year anniversary of blowing out my right elbow at the 2014 AO is tomorrow. You can memorialize the moment by sending me gluten free cookies lol=), and, overall, I stayed healthy.  

And, yes, I did , finally get to socialize a bit more at this competition. There were so many "facebook friends" I got to actually meet in person and become "real" friends.  There were even some serrendipitous moments like seeing my friend Tim Mcrae , a 2016 USAW Hall of Fame inductee, for the first time in years.  I am really starting to appreciate the rich and amazing network of friends I've made through the sport of weightlifting; probably why I dedicate myself to improving knowledge the sport.



________________
*For people who are not familiar with sarcasm-- Yes, I know New Zealand isn't actually MiddleEarth LOL
** If you are wondering what a macrocycle and microcycle are, I am coming out with a book on the Soviet System in the next few weeks. Its written at a level that both newcomers/beginners and experienced coaches can get something out of it.
*** James Tatum is wearing the current model of the risto sports tiburon " lifters " or  weightlifting shoes.  He joins many other well know lifters who have won championships in these shoes such as Neisi Dajomes, Carlos Andica, Maryam Usman, Rocio Navarro, Lesbia Cruz  ... plus Dmitry Klokov in exhibition post competitive career.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Are Cleans good or bad for baseball players?

Ok, I have to admit, I was randomly poking around the internet and came across some conflicting views on whether baseball players should do cleans.

I was actually surprised to see the level of controversy surrounding it.

Back in the day, when I was a college Student at Georgia Tech, I was granted the great privilege by the Athletic Director to use the athletic teams' weight room. This was when bars and bumper plates in a weight room were unheard of.  It was also because I was weightlifting even back then and was on various National Junior Teams for weightlifting.

Anyhow, I always saw the baseball players doing Olympic lifts (very early 2000's, GT's team was very good). The only lifts which the athletic coaches shied away from were snatches, because they were worried about the pitcher's hurting their elbows.  I remember seeing them doing cleans ( I think one of the athletic  coaches  of the GT baseball actually wrote a book on how he trained his athletes).

Now, many years later, having another great privilege of working alongside some of the best weightlifting coaches in the world, I think the question should be approached differently.

Athletic sports performance coaches should ask : what is the goal of doing the olympic lifts, and which lifts should my athletes do?

So, a weightlifters goal is to snatch and clean and jerk as much as possible.

A baseball players goal of lifting would be to become more powerful and explosive, and a small secondary effect of balanced use of both sides of the body.

Thus, baseball players do not need to train like olympic weightlifters.  The best exercise would be hang power cleans- yes, not even full clean and jerks.  There is a benefit to doing overhead work like the jerk, which is the most explosive part of the olympic lifts, in terms of acceleration.  They might not need to snatch.

It seemed most of the controversy was over whether the clean put too much stress on the elbow and UCL.  I have torn my UCL -- the answer is for a healthy elbow, NO.

Most lifters tear their UCL for two reasons - 1. bad technique in the snatch, 2. saving a lift that is going backward in the snatch at a near maximal weight (what I did ;).

To get the most bang for your buck in the olympic lifts is simple:
1.  Teach the baseball players relatively good technique.  If they can hit a tiny ball traveling over 70mph, I am sure they can learn how to do a decent clean.
1a. For example, The system I use, I can get someone to do a decent clean in 1 training session--especially, if they are already an athlete.
1b. Any exercise the athlete is doing requires technique. I have seen people mess-up something as simple as an incline bench. We should avoid the excuse that olympic lifts "are too hard to teach". Again, your players are highly athletic individuals, they can learn a good clean.
2. Reward consistently good technique. Technique should actually get better the more tired the athlete is - because it forces them to be more efficient. If their technique is starting to breakdown, then have them go down in weight-- you can even have them work with the bar for 30min.
3. Avoid singles and doubles, work in lower intensity zones-. If the goal is to get more explosive and not to be the best weightlifter, then doing lower intensity for sets of no less than triples is fine. There is no reason to do singles and doubles.

So, to answer the question, most elbow injuries do not happen in the clean. The clean is a very safe exercise when done with reasonably good technique. If anything, the clean will improve hypertrophy of the front delts, biceps, and forearms. The elbow is one of the few joints which can actually be better stabilized by increasing muscle mass around it. Doing cleans on a healthy elbow with good technique at reasonable intensity and reasonable repetition range/set may actually get the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the elbow thicker, and , hence, better prepared for sport.

That's my humble opinion.


PS: And, I clean on my fully recovered UCL all the time ;).

*I think I saw the original topic, headline of this article, on a sports performance forum I randomly came across. Sorry for missing the citation. Content in this post is my own.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weightlifting shoe heel height- Trend or Utility - the best heel height for you.

All the time I am asked about heel heights for weightlifting shoes and what the best heel height is.  Based on how the question is asked, I can even tell what sport the lifter is coming from and what lifting trend they are following.

So, in this post, I'll give you a brief history of weightlifting shoe heel trends, including which gave the biggest results.

First, let's talk a little sociology.

Heel height of weightlifting and what is a considered a "big heel" or a "small heel" has become incredibly perception based. Depending on what path the lifter has taken, their view on what a heel should be can be incredibly skewed.  Someone coming from Starting Strength views anything over a 1/2 inch heel height as gigantic. Someone coming from CrossFit is looking for between a ".75 inch and 1 inch effective heel"( To this day, I'm convinced the term "effective heel" was spawned on a crossfit forum somewhere as many shoe manufacturers don't use the term). Someone coming from a strict Olympic weightlifting background is looking for over an inch heel, many want between 1/18 inch to 1 1/2 inches.   Then you have what I call general purpose lifting - strength athletes that squat and do some cleans,bodybuilders looking to up their leg game-- they just want something with a heel.

You may be wondering - "so who is right?" . From my experience, for the 99% of the population, there's really two groupings for two purposes - ultra low heel for starting strength followers/low bar squat and an actual weightlifting heel for everybody else.

Starting strength and low-bar back squatters for their own special goals and purposes- which differ from crossfitters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, and other strength athletes- advocates a 1/2 inch heel. For this reason, many years ago Risto Sports made a highly successful shoe for a distributor geared towards starting strength (that distributor replaced it with an inferior vinyl EVA heel shoe made in China).  Now, Risto Sports carries a 1/2 inch heel just for lifters that fall into this segment, because they have their special reasons for wanting a 1/2inch heel, and they deserve a shoe made from the best materials!

Now, there is everybody else- weightlifters, crossfitters, powerlifters, strongmen, bodybuilders, athletes training for strength sports - all squat and many do at least power cleans. For this group, a heel height of between 1 1/8inch and 1 1/2inch has traditionally yielded the best results in snatch, clean and jerk, and squat. This is why Risto Sports makes shoes in this heel height range. Famous "high bar" squatters in powerlifting have used olympic weightlifting shoes. And, some of the best bodybuilders in the world, with the best quads-- ie TOM PLATZ--have squatted in the standard olympic weightlifting shoe heel height as a long hidden trade secret. You can even find photos of Arnold squatting on plates to get more heel height (not recommended as this can cause ankle injuries).

There are shoes on the market targeted at crossfitters that have a heel somewhere between the low heel and a normal weightlifting heel-- this is often a miserable compromise in the shoe design, in an attempt to make an all around shoe. Plus, the CF Games title sponsor's crossfit footwear is, currently, the only footwear allowed to be worn at the games. Still, outside the CF Games and the pre-reebok crossfit years, you will notice many high level crossfitters do their heavy snatches, clean and jerks, and squats in weightlifting shoes.

The short answer on what the best heel height is:

The heaviest lifts ever, pound for pound, were done in the 1980's. These incredible world records were erased due to weight class changes*.  Many of these lifters had shoes with around between a 1/4inch 1/2inch forefoot with and around a  1 1/2inch heel height.  So, yes, you want an "effective heel" or delta heel height was an inch or more!  likely, not much less than an inch delta for small sizes! Certainly, a quarter inch higher than plastic and EVA heel shoes!!!!!

Want proof, take a look at these incredible photos:

This one is of Dravco Stoichjov lifting 215kg clean and jerk as a 75kg in the early 80's- 1984ish. I took this photo in Slavia, Bulgaria.  He's wearing wood heel shoes with the traditional heel height which some people view as "big" . The current 77kg record is 214kg!
Dravco Stoichkov doing an insane 215kg clean and jerk at around 75kg bodyweight circa 1984 -ish. Higher than the world record today in 77's, weighing less! He's wearing wood heel shoes with a heel height similar to Risto Sports. Much higher than plastic heel or EVA heel shoes
Here's one of Vardanyan who is famous for totaling 400kg at 82.5kg and outlifting even the competitors of the 2 heavier weight classes above him. Note the shoes. Look at the shoes his competitors are wearing-- do you see any ultra low heels? Nope.

Photo credit from wikipedia, 1980 Olympics article. Yuri Vardanyan winning Gold at the 1980 Olympics

The Long answer on why heels got lower:

My engineering guess on why shoes with plastic heels and EVA heels have smaller heel heights

1a.Simple, the plastic is more likely to crack.  There is a lot of flexion going on midfoot during the final extension of the pull and in the jerk. Plastic is known to soften as it is worked (think of bending a plastic fork back and forth), so having a bigger delta between the back of the heel and the forefoot is asking more of the material.

1b. EVA is a soft material. It is made for cushioning. Sure, the type of EVA used in lifting shoes are a bit stiffer than what you find in neck supports. YET, they still compress more than a wood heel, they still suck more energy out of your lift than a wood heel. Now, imagine if you doubled the height of the EVA, the squishy-ness would be even more noticeable. It would act as an even bigger damper.

2. Cost Reductions -- I have worked in companies , where because of volume, we would work projects aimed at reducing just a 1/4 inch of material off of a part.  Smaller heels are cheaper to make because they use less material.

3. Lack of expertise-- Let's face it, two of the biggest weightlifting shoe companies in the world are not weightlifting companies. One is a soccer shoe company. The other is a running shoe company.   The market dynamics are something like this.....One company sold a little more shoes one year as a novelty, so the other followed their trend and lowered their heel heights.

So, are you really going to wear a shoe because a company wanted to cheap out on the design? Do you really trust a company that was born for the purpose of making running shoes to tell you what to lift in?

Negative effects of wearing too low a heel:

The lower the heel gets, the wider a lifter's stance must get to attain the same torso postions.

Nowadays, there are any videos of lifters barely breaking parallel in their squats.  If you look at lifters from the 80's and 90's that lifted more than today's lifters, they are squatting "ass to grass".

So, a lower heel height will make it more difficult for a lifter to attain for squat depth.  The lifter may be able to attain full depth with discomfort.

Why do we even care about full squat depth?  Well, you can predict an athlete's total based on their back squat if and only if they are squatting full depth. In other words, giving me the PR back squat of someone who does half squats is like a useless statistic for me. It tells me nothing.

Also, fully squatting has big benefits. Some studies shows it is less wear on the knees as the motion is completed smoothly. A full squat utilizes more of the posterior chain --- more muscles to generate power.  I can get into this for hours.  This is my abridged answer.


Check out Khaki Khakisavillis doing full squats in Russian boots (Russian style weightlifting boots) in this training hall video.


Here is a video from my personal stash training in Bulgaria, circa early 2008, before those plastic ultra-low heels appeared on the market.  Note, lifter's full squatting.




Now, here's a video from the 2016 Junior World Championships from our friends at All Things Gym, note around the 4:24 minute mark the squatting segment.  Most of the squats barely break parallel if even, and look how wide her stance is in comparison to the Risto Sports and Iron Mind videos.  There are several other training hall videos showing this trend; the lifters have one thing, for the most part, in common- plastic lower heel shoes.



This is simply meant to be an observation and not a criticism.  

My advice - wear a shoe that's going to help you fully squat comfortably.


* weight classes changed due to substances that were once legal to take became prohibited and dopign was seen to be wide spread in the late 80's. However, recent doping retests of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games shows that many top lifters were doping, anyhow, and still had lower results than lifters in the 80's.

**Note, the heel height is relative to the "lift" in the ball of the foot(I'll get to that later), which subtracted from the heel height gives, what crossfitters call, an "effective heel".

*** Ok, now time for me to shamelessly plug Risto Sports. You can get real weightlifting heels heights at a great price and fair trade at www.ristosports.com  .

Leave weightlifting shoes to an actual weightlifting company. ;)

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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