The 2008 World Championships

6 Pack, ready for action

6 Pack, ready for action

 

The World Championship rolled into town in Evansville  this year, and with it came the sport’s finest competitors from across the globe.

A thousand chairs faced the stage that was decorated by the flags from the Nations the athletes came to honor. In the middle of the crowd video cameras were set up taping the event. Off to the sides were the warm up areas for the lifters to get ready for action. Earlier that day I woke up at 6:30am and weighed-in at the same room. It was empty. Now it was full of life, and I was full of adrenaline.

We started off in the Squats, and right away the defending World Champion from England, Andy Bonner, took the lead with a 440 pound squat. National Champions from the USA (Caleb Wallace and Gregg Zweig) and Australia (Rhys Archer) helped round out the top 5 after the squat event with me being the Canadian Champion coming in 4th.

 

A squat good enough to nab me 4th

A squat good enough to nab me 4th

 

With the first event complete, I was in 4th place, and already in a better position than I would have predicted when I got up that morning. Next up was the bench press and I was fairly certain that was going to be my strongest event (pun intended).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bench press event was were I would gain my ground. Before the event started the defending World Champion, Andy Bonner from England, approached me and said this event would be contested between me and Gregg Zweig from the USA. He said we looked to be the most powerful benchers in the 181 pound weight class.

I was flattered that the defending World Champion, and World record holder would even notice I might be a threat, let alone he was pegging me to be a favorite in the second event. It also served warning that Gregg of the US was someone to look out for.

As it turned out, the defending Champion was a seasoned vet who wisely had me naively thinking he was not someone to worry about in this event. He was trying to take my focus off of him and on the American Champion. If he thought he was going to fly under the radar and slip by me, he was wrong. I already knew what he was capable of in the bench press.

 

plotting my bench press opener

plotting my bench press opener

Getting the heads up of Bonner's big opener

Getting the heads up of Bonner

In powerlifting you have 3 attempts in each of the 3 events (Squats, bench press, deadlifts) and when you put down the weight you are going to attempt you can’t drop the weight if you fail to lift it. If you put down a weight, you have 3 attempts to lift it. If you fail on all three attempts you are out of the competition and do not advance to the next event. On the flip side, if you put down too light a weight and waste an attempt you will have wasted an opportunity to advance in the rankings as they take your highest successful attempt of the 3 in each event to add up and go towards your total. It is the man with the highest total that wins.
On that day I was informed that Bonner, after directing my focus on the American Champion, was going to attempt an extremely high opening attempt for the bench press. It was a move that let me know he was not going to let any one out bench him that day.
I decided to sent a message myself, and I kicked off the bench press event with the biggest opener of the weight class. The weight flew off my chest with ease, and I was in the lead.
“This is your event, make them chase you!” my brother told me after the opening lift. If I was to gain ground for my total placing I would have to do it in the bench press event. In the squats I came in a respectable 4th, and the deadlifts was next and defintely my weakest event. I needed a big bench day, and I needed to set the trend to have the rest of the pack follow my lead.
Gregg Zweig, USA, matched Bonner and they were tied for second place in the bench press event behind me.
I had them chasing me.
My second attempt was 320 pounds (in competition the bench press has a pause on your chest where you hold the weight for a second before you press it. Far harder than the “touch and go” most do in the gym) and it again was pressed up with ease. Bonner was sure to match me, but Gregg failed to, as did every one else in the field.
So it came down to me and the defending World Champion. In a bold move Bonner gave his third attempt at bench press first before I did, it was to be 330 pounds. Considering how he had struggled with 320, I was not sure he could make it. I could put myself down for 325, a weight I had done before in competition, and hope he fails his last attempt or I could try to match him at 330 pounds. I had never pressed that much though, and was unsure if I could. I also knew Bonner had a killer deadlift, and this may be his way of pushing me in the bench to throw away my last attempt and lose some much needed ground to cover before the deadlift. In the last event he would dead heavy, and I would fall behind.
I decided to go for broke and matched his attempt at 330 pounds.
my 330 pound attempt

my 330 pound attempt

I took the platform and was told “the bar is loaded”. It was to be the heaviest bench press of the day if I landed it. If I could be successful I will have Bonner chasing me. He will be forced to press the same and tie me for first in bench press or fall behind to second in the event.
I got the weight handed off to me and I could feel the adrenaline going through my body. The weight seemed light, and I pressed it suprisingly easy. I hopped up off of the bench and was greeted by the Canadian contingent with “You should have pressed more! You had 10 more pounds in you!”.
Still, it was Bonner’s turn to see if he could match me…
Watching Bonner's 330 pound attempt

Watching Bonner

 

Bonner layed down on the bench and the room fell silent. All eyes were on the Champion as he was attempting to hold of the charge of the young Canadian Champion. I sat in my chair waiting to see if he could keep up on the bench with me. He was given the signal to start and he lowered the bar on his chest waiting the press signal. “Press!” the ref yelled and Bonner pushed with everything his body had. The weight raised off his chest slowly, and his arms shook like leaves in the wind. For a few dramatic seconds it seemed as though the weight would be too much for him to bear. Shaky and unsure, he pressed the weight until his arms were completely streched out, and he had completed the press. He matched my bench, just barely.

 

warming up for deadlifts

warming up for deadlifts

 

After the impressive benching display I was in second place overall. Bonner was in the lead with Gregg Zweig and Cody Wallace of USA in 3rd and 4th respectively, and Rhys Archer of Australia in 5th. But the deadlift event was next, and it was by far my worst event of the 3. I had never deadlifted before this year, and was a rookie with the lift. I made it to the World Championships on the strength of my squat and bench press. I was sure to loose much of the ground I gained. I knew I was going to dead much less than the competition, but the plan was to dead enough to not fall too far behind in the rankings. Technically my deadlift was very off. I just muscled the weight up, while my competition used proper leverage and was able to lift more.

 

warming up for the final event

warming up for the final event

 

The deadlifts kicked off and my first attempt was conservative. I didn’t want to bomb out of the event. For the most part the rest of the feild also had conservative openers for the deadlifts. It was in the second round of attempts that I began to drastically fall behind. Bonner, Wallace, Zweig all moved ahead of me, which was expected. But on top of that Travis Morrison, Nathan Dewigg and John Clow all deadlifted more than me and advanced ahead of me in the rankings. By the time people were giving their third attempts in the event my lack of experience with the lift was showing.

 

American Champion Caleb Wallace

American Champion Caleb Wallace

 

American Champions Caleb Wallace and Gregg Zweig put on a great display of deadlifting, while Travis Morrison and Rhys Archer closed the gap on me. I was falling behind rapidly, and was in danger of not reaching my goal of finishing in the top ten. From second in the feild to not even a top ten finish, all because I was far too new to the deadlift to keep up. I have to admit, I knew ahead of time I was going to struggle in the final event.

 

Andy Bonner with the biggest dead of the day

Andy Bonner with the biggest dead of the day

 

Andy Bonner, to no one’s suprise, pulled off the biggest deadlift of the day with 583 pounds and was comfortably ahead of the rest of the pack. With his last lift he yelled out “Still the daddy!” as at 53 years old he had taken the rest of us to school once again. He truely is the Randy Couture/George Foreman of powerlifting.

While he was comfortably taking 1st, I was fighting to stay relevant. It came down to my last deadlift, and I needed to pull off something big to stay in the rankings. It may not be big compared to Bonner or the American Champions, but it would be the biggest deadlift I would ever pull. It would be more weight than I had ever deadlifted, and I would have only one shot in getting it off or I would fall behind Australia’s Rhys Archer (who was breathing down my neck all competition it was so close).

With the bar loaded, and the Canadians cheering me on, I took to the platform and grabbed the bar. By this time I was fighting for 4th place. If I nailed this deadlift I would take it. It would be much higher than I had hope to achieve. You know when you watch a movie and there is a scene when the crowd gets silent and all you can hear is the lead character’s heart beating? Now I know how it feels…

 

My last stand

My last stand

 

It was my final lift, and the heaviest of my day, and the heaviest of my life. And it was everything I needed it to be. With the weight in hand I stood up with it and could see my family and friends cheer as I had lifted my way to a new personal best.

In the end Andy Bonner took 1st again, Gregg Zweig took 2nd, Caleb Wallace 3rd, 6 Pack 4th, and Rhys Archer in 5th. That was the top 5 in the World Championships of 2008. I got my plaque and left with a smile on my face. It was my first year in the sport, and I think the future looks very bright for this chap 😉

 

The medal podium

The medal podium

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4 thoughts on “The 2008 World Championships

  1. Well Well,

    Look what ive come across after 2 years lol.
    great write up mate. hows the lifting going now. give me an email or im on facebook.

    cheers

    Rhys Archer

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