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Tighten up the Bar, Lifter Will Repeat.
Mike Gray

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Just about 6 years ago I entered my first weightlifting meet. I had been Olympic lifting for about 4 months and wanted to get into a meet before I took off for Iraq for the next 7 months. So there was a group traveling from San Diego up to San Francisco for the California State Games at a local High School. It was a great time and I learned plenty about competing in a meet and what the difference between “gym” lifting and “meet” lifting is. 

There was one moment/lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life, though. Greg was there with me and saw it as well (and if I screwed up any of the details by all means correct me). In one of the early morning sessions I believe, they were doing the masters males first. There was a guy who had to have been at least 55 doing clean and jerks with I want to say about 120-125 kilos. Anyway, this guy was a pretty hard core looking dude and I believe he was wearing a headband to keep his grey hair back as he was lifting.

On his second attempt, he didn’t quite lock out his jerk and the bar came slamming back down straight onto his head, knocking him out. I’m not joking. It drove him to the ground and he was out for a few seconds. All I remember thinking is, Well, he's done, at least he got one lift in. I'll be damned if he didn’t get up, dust himself off, and turn to the judges table and say he would take it again. Announcer says into the microphone, “Tighten up the bar, lifter will repeat”! Then he got up there and made the lift when only a few minutes before, he was laid out on the platform like a corpse.I remember Greg just shaking his head. I remember thinking, What the hell just happened, but most of all I remember thinking that is a tough SOB who just had a ton of weight come crashing down on his head and he went back and made the lift.

If you haven’t competed in a meet, by all means, please do, but remember you are going to miss and you might have to follow yourself and get back up and take it again with only a couple of minutes to gather yourself. I just want you to keep in mind that it could be a lot worse because I know I do when it happens to me.


Mike Gray is a weightlifter for Team Catalyst Athletics.

More from Mike Gray

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5 Comments
Matt Foreman 2012-06-01
Good story!
Greg Everett 2012-06-01
This guy was hard as fucking nails. I mainly remember the two of us looking at each other wondering who would be the first to go down the bleachers and check for a pulse.
Lee Tannenbaum 2012-06-01
Very cool! As an old guy, I can totally relate. Last OHS max day, my elbow went. Bar with 85K came crashing down on the bridge of my nose. Cleaned up all the blood, put on a band-aid, and made the lift the second time. Always, always, get back on the horse (so to speak). Thanks for posting this.
Other Aimee 2012-06-03
I like how your posts are always practical and useful.
Margo 2012-08-08
This title SOOOO needs to be a t-shirt!!
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