Well, after the roaring success of my first meet last September in which I qualified for the BDFPA nationals, I had a second meet yesterday – the West Midlands last-minute qualifier. It wasn’t a competition I needed to do, but the idea was to get some more experience before going to the Nationals.

Well, I definitely got some more experience. Just not quite the kind I was after!

Basically, I bombed.

Let me get my excuses in to protect my ego: I’d had a cold all week, I have a hip niggle, I have bicep strain, and I hadn’t even tried to peak for the competition. I’d also dieted fairly hard into it, coming off the back of Xmas, to get under 90kg. There were also a couple of weird spotter issues on the bench.

BUT. None of those things really should have led to me missing all my benches. I squatted 190 and 200 easily, then did something I’ve never done in 8 years of squatting – I picked the bar up for a 210…off-centre! How?! I have no idea. That totally threw me, and even though they kindly allowed a re-rack and re-start, it had thrown me off completely. I proceeded to fail a lift I’d got comfortably just 10 days prior.

Bench came, and not only did I initially forget to take the wrist straps off my thumbs, but I apparently didn’t wait for the spotters to completely pass the weight (we only had side spotters, no-one to hand off the bar above you) before I started. So although my initial 135kg bench was comfortable, it was a no lift. In reality, neither spotter ever made it clear it was ‘my bar’, something that was very clear at the last comp. Variation is fine – now I know never to take it for granted. With this in my head, I now failed 140kg on my second lift – a pretty comfortable gym 95% effort for me. I know that if I fail a lift once, I never get it on a second attempt – so I bombed out of bench with no lifts…and no point carrying on to deadlift not being able to set a total.

So as disasters go, for me personally, it was complete. The one over-riding feature though, was a little bit of complacency, I think. I’ve got used to being able to hit decent lifts, and didn’t take enough time to properly set myself up for lifting in the atmosphere of a meet. I was late to the platform for my first squat! That’s just stupid.

So whilst there were some issues that might have niggled at any time, I think that had I approached the competition properly and with the mindset I had before my first meet, those issues would not have had the consequences they had yesterday. Basically – it’s my fault.

It won’t happen again. I don’t like losing – and I’d have come second on the squat, and joint first on the bench, had I not failed comfortable lifts. That’s what rankles more than anything – I was competing against a very good athlete in my class, and I’d have at least held onto his taillights had I done what I should have done.

I’ve also fallen into a bit of a trap in training on focusing on one lift – squatting – to the detriment of benching and deadlifting. What happened yesterday made me realise that having one great lift isn’t enough if you manage to f**k it up – you need to be able to rely on all three. A contributing factor to yesterday has been my mindset of assuming squat and bench were in the bag, and only deadlift was the worry. Well, if you screw up the first two, the deadlift is – as you can tell – irrelevant.

I drove home from Birmingham, went straight to my gym, turned the music up to shake-the-walls volume and had a very good deadlift session. In fact, one of the best training sessions I’ve had in weeks. Nothing changed but being annoyed, frustrated, disappointed…and a little embarrassed. In some ways, I suspect yesterday, in the long run, might turn out to be the slap round the face I needed in my training.

So, that was me. As I say, it won’t happen again. I won’t be that complacent, that ill-prepared or that stupid on the stand again.

A big shoutout to one of my PTs, though, Tim Wheatcroft (@Tim_RWF on Twitter) who did the polar opposite to me – he nailed 9 out of 9, setting comp scores of 180kg squat (equal to gym PB), 125kg bench (paused PB) and a 200kg deadlift (equal to gym PB) in the u83kg weight class, qualifying for the Nationals with a 505kg total.

Now, myself, my girlfriend and Tim will be competing at the Nationals at the end of February. Instead of relieving the pressure on myself with a good meet, I’ve added to it – but I won’t be letting the side down again.

Thanks for reading.


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