If you follow Garage Strength or Jules on social media you will have noticed over the last 5-6 months that she has really been coming into form. Her technique has improved, her consistency in meets has improved dramatically and her energy levels are always seaping through her pores. IN training, she has smoked a 104k snatch and a 126k clean and jerk, while back squatting 160k as a 19 year old. We knew Jules was in good shape, especially after her last meet, a local competition where she went 6/6 and hit 100/122 at her new weight class, 90k.
When we arrived in Tashkent, we were coming off a terrible travel and two nights of missing sleep. Fortunately, my roommate Vernon Patao and I had decided it would be good to get his athlete, Meredith Alwine and Jules to go heavy as early as possible prior to the travel taking it’s full toll on them. That meant 7 days prior to competing, Jules would have her last very heavy day. The training hall was bumping and she worked up to 103k and 124k without any fails in each lift. This was promising, especially because I knew that the next few days would be tough due to sleep adaptation.
Saturday was Jules’ off day to recover from the heavy day and from travel. Sunday, Jules got into training and we worked up to a few singles at 90k and 110k and hit some heavier clean pulls. At this point she still had not had a full nights rest and was feeling very funky. Her sleep was completely wacked and her body was feeling mentally drained from the sleep deprivation. From Sunday to Monday, she finally got her first full night of sleep! I knew that would still put her two days out from feeling normal.
Monday’s training was tough. Her rhythm was off but I could see her strength was beginning to come back. She looked so bad snatching, I had her hit a triple at 85k and only had her clean and jerk to 105k. I knew the strength was there but the coordination would take another 1-2 days to return. She was letting doubt creep into her head, fortunately it was our last squat day. She did four singles, 140/145/150 and then I let her hammer 155 so she could feel confidence in her strength. That lift woke her UP!
Tuesday was an easy shake out, working to a solid 90k and 112k before we took our last day of rest. She hammered three snach pull sets and then headed into Wednesday in a better state mentally. She recovered all day Wednesday and then Thursday came for some pre-meet. We went 65k and 85k and she looked like a fire was lit under her ass. Everything was fast, positions were good and her mental game was on point. We sat down and walked through warm ups, made our meet checklist, did some visualization discussion and laid out the entire plan to shock the world of weightlifting the next day.
Friday morning, I made sure Jules wasn’t up at 7:00AM blaring EDM, instead she needed to stay calm until the competition and then ignite the rage. Jules is a ball of energy, she is always ready to compete and always on edge and controlling those emotions as much as possible prior to a meet is important for preparation. We laid out the food plan, got everything packed and headed to the venue. Weigh ins are always pretty intense, all the athletes are sitting there impatiently waiting for the scale while the coaches just stare each other down awkardly. We were #6 in line, she weighed 83.2 and I already noticed a few lifters had declared our number, 90k and 110k. We knew we wanted to open higher but we wanted the medal position to determine our opener.
Pyrros Dimas and I loaded while Mike Gattone counted and maintained the clock. We all double checked the board while letting Jules do her thing during warm ups. As soon as warm ups had started, we realized quickly it would be a 5-6 athlete fight. Jules kept cool, smashing everything on the bar and even executed a mini-wave to get a warm up in. She smashed 92k, gave out a little scream and I knew it was on.
We opened at 94k, knowing that would put us in position for a medal. She smashed it. We played some games and bumped to 97k, becoming the first to hit it, ensuring us a medal. Finally, it became apparent she only needed 99k to take the gold. She lined it up, finished just a hair forward but ran it down to save it for the gold! She won the snatch!
What an accomplishment. Last year at Junior Worlds, she finished 8th overall, now she was sitting in poll position heading into clean and jerk. It was hard for me to control my emotions. If you know me, you know I cry like a little bitch. I needed to make sure Jules didn’t see me losing my head and needed her to realize we had three more lifts in front of us all the while making sure she knew how proud I was of what she just did on the World stage. Those emotions are why I coach. I want my athletes to experience emotions that otherwise normal people won’t ever experience. All of the work and training was paying off. The emotional response was awesome but she still had to crush clean and jerks. It was time to refuel and relax and start visualizing to finish strong.
Clean and Jerks were looking great. Mike, Pyrros and I had every scenario figured out and devised a strong plan of attack for nearly a dozen scenarios. Her last warm up was 116k and she murdered it. She was ready to pounce on the competition. We decided to take 120k as an opener because that would put her in a very strong position strategically and so we headed for the platform. She missed...she came off furious, we ran to the board and knew we were high enough that competitors wouldn’t jump because they may end up bumping their athlete too high.
Jules regrouped, she knew where her breakdown was and refocused. It was time to take what was hers! She hammered 120k on her second attempt, making it look like childs play. This put us in a spot to secure top 3 for certain. We played the numbers game, waited on some misses and decided to take 125k. We knew this would give us third but we were unsure about 2nd or 1st. She went out and sent 125k to the moon! She went ⅚ and came back from the first miss in the clean and jerk. We sat back and waited to see where she would end up, securing the silver medal overall and bronze in clean and jerk.
What an awesome meet. It was one of the hardest sessions I have ever coached and Jules did what she needed to do...make lifts. From 8th place to 2nd place in one year and 18k to her total, what a great year of progression. It sucks she missed her opener clean and jerk but the lesson is there. If she hits that lift, who knows what we take on our last attempt. That doesn’t matter anymore, what matters is that she gamed up and will know even more so the value of making lifts in the training and competition. I am proud of you, Jules!