This blog is just a simple write up of my analysis of the first Garage Strength competitor to take on the competition at the Junior World Championships in Uzbekistan, Hayley Reichardt. Hayley came to Uzbekistan in position to potentially bring home a bronze medal in the 48k division. Heading into the start, there were four girls with a start total of 175k or more, Hayley being one of those girls. Her best total to date was 171k from the 2018 Arnold Classic.
We left for Uzbekistan on Tuesday, July 3rd at 2:20AM from JFK airport. We flew to Moscow and landed around 5:30PM local time, had a two hour layover and then proceeded to board for a four hour flight to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We landed in Tashkent around 2:45AM July 4th, waited for luggage and then checked into the hotel around 4:45AM. We were instructed to sleep in until 8:00AM to start acclimating to the time zone change.
After waking up on Wednesday after 3-4 hours of sleep, we ate and then headed for training at the venue. On Wednesday, we did an easy session, working up to 60k and 80k in snatch and clean and jerk. We got back to the hotel in the mid-afternoon, ate and forced the kids to stay awake until 8-9PM. Hayley noted poor night's sleep from Wednesday to Thursday. Thursday came and we woke up, had a good meal and went to the training hall in the early afternoon. Hayley felt off but still moved fairly well. She snatched up to 67k and clean and jerked 89k in as few sets as possible as this was her last hard session prior to competition.
Thursday to Friday night she fell asleep quickly and looked exhausted. However, she woke up numerous times throughout the night and looked fatigued the next morning. We had a nice breakfast, I encouraged her to get a short nap prior to our stretch out session and a little bit of food as her bodyweight was not an issue. We went to training, she warmed up and moved 45k around in the snatch and 60k in the clean and jerk. We got back to the hotel, everyone had the zombie look at dinner and then they went to bed.
I had our coaching meeting with Mike Gattone and Pyrros Dimas. We discussed how in shape she was, meet preparation, warm ups, post weigh in nutrition as well as openers. Over the last few weeks of preparation Hayley had hit some very solid numbers in training.
- 75k snatch, 73k and 72k for 3 singles
- 98k clean and jerk, multiple sessions from 90-95k in the clean and jerk
- Her nutrition was solid, bodyweight was ideal, meet preparation was strong and she had started spending a lot of time meditating
- I was confident in her ability to perform between a 168 and 173k total which would have put her in strong position to medal.
That night was our third night staying in Uzbekistan. I got a very poor night of sleep and looked at my phone around 2:15AM and saw Hayley had messaged me that she was struggling to sleep and had been awake for quite a while. I messaged her back to remind her about her meet in Malaysia and what she had done before with poor sleep. I then told her to do 30 minutes of her meditation and see if that would help with her sleep. Eventually she fell back asleep and we got up for weight check.
At 8:00AM she was 47.9, a good spot to be in. We got breakfast, she had some eggs and rice and re-weighed herself at noon, 47.75 and had some protein before heading to weigh ins. Hayley was in the zone and focused, weighed in at 47.75. This was a little lighter than I had hoped but was still solid. We declared 70/90 as openers and then went to the waiting room to prepare for the competition.
Warm ups went relatively quickly. With a smaller field and Hayley opening in the middle of the pack, we were about 6-8 attempts out. Hayley warmed up well, hitting a convincing 70k on her last warm up attempt. Here is where the first mistake may have been made. Hayley took 70 and sat for about 5-6 minutes before her opener due to a few two minute clocks and misses. Her first 72k snatch looked solid but was just a hair behind on the catch. We repeated 72k where she seemed a little tentative and kept the bar a little forward. Repeating 72k was brutal. Waiting for others and dealing with other misses left a lot of tension in the room. Hayley went up and smashed her third snatch and we went into the back in the middle of the pack after the completion of the snatch.
Hayley stayed in decent spirits. No one snatched particularly well, except for two competitors. She got food in her, tried to regroup and did some simple mobility work. I informed her that she was still in the hunt for a medal and I would have every intention of putting a medal attempt on the bar for her to crush it and bring home some hardware.
Her clean and jerk warm ups went well, 55-65-75 were all easy lifts. I had originally wanted Hayley to take the jump from 75-85k but a few 2 minute clocks made me have her take 80 and then 85 before her final warm up at 89k. 89 was solid and we headed for the platform. Hayley opened at 91 and hit it with a very strong clean and a semi-shaky jerk but nothing to cause alarm. We jumped to 94k to put us in good position for the medal hunt. Hayley clarked it. She said it felt heavy, it looked a little forward which put it out of position with a bad feeling.
Here is where the craziness continued to ensue. I realized that if we took 96 and Hayley hit it we would place 3rd overall. I have seen Hayley clark lifts before and still make the attempt after the clark. I have seen her hit 96 half a dozen times in training. I asked Hayley if she wanted to medal or not. In my mind there was no difference in taking 8th or 5th place if we repeated 94k. I knew she was capable of 96k and we both did not fly around the world to settle for fifth, we went to Uzbekistan to medal! 96 was loaded, Hayley changed her disposition and approached the bar, she got set and looked ready to kill it but only did a high pull. She finished 8th overall. This was a failure on paper but not for her career.
I believe I have learned a few lessons from the experience.
- We need to focus on her weight staying just a little heavier, a little longer.
- We need to keep heavy sessions in training longer to mimic a meet.
- We need to continue improving her meditation skills.
- We need to revamp her snatch technique.
- We need to continue improving her stability overhead.
USA Weightlifting does just about everything we could ask for. Funding, food preparation help, statistical analysis, backroom assistance and an excellent team manager. However, I believe there are two areas they can improve upon to help their athletes succeed at a higher level. Regarding travel, there was an option for a direct flight from JFK to Tashkent on a 787 Dreamliner. This flight should have been taken not only because it would save travel stress but also because the 787 Dreamliner is the nicest plane in the world. Travel would have been less stressful and recovery from the travel may have been faster because we would not have missed two nights of sleep in a row. This was also a problem with Senior Pan Ams when there was a direct flight available that was not taken by USA Weightlifting. Direct flights decrease travel time, minimize stress and keep things easier. I also believe that had we arrived 2-3 days earlier with the lighter athletes, adaptation to the time change would have been earlier and performance may have improved. Again, this is a criticism to improve the organization, overall USAW does an incredible job providing as much as possible for the athletes on these trips. This was a great experience for Hayley and for myself as a coach and this will help her continue to develop as an elite lifter.