Wow! the last few weeks have been unbelievable! I am only just coming back down to earth. I had hoped to have a quiet few days before flying out to Hamburg last week, tapering, ensuring I was up to date at work and sleeping. However my workplace had other ideas. A press release from both my coach and my boss led to interest from the local paper who came to visit and take photographs on Tuesday. This was followed by requests from local TV and the radio, a kettlebelling head teacher is news worthy, Wednesday afternoon was spent in front of cameras and radio mikes. Lots of fun but not restful! On top of this I had packing, organising and taking up trousers!
When coach and I finally took our seats on the train, I felt a sense of relief, all the planning and training was over, now we just had to get on that platform and do our best. Several people stopped me during the journey because they recognised me from the TV and radio and wished us luck, which was nice. We were both limiting our food intake to ensure we made weight so we were very hungry as we flew into Hamburg airport. Our team mates were also hungry and tracking us as we made our way through the Hamburg rush hour to the sports hall where we were weighing in.
The hall was buzzing and full of athletes registering and weighing in. Our forms submitted, we headed toward weigh in. As I’m in the lightest class, and making weight is hard, I always strip down to pants and bra when I weigh in. However the presence of two Russian men in suits, looking very official caused me to pause for a few moments before deciding to go ahead anyway, the room was full of young women so I was unlikely to cause a stir. All weighed in and within our weight classes, we headed for food and then bed.
The next few days were a blur of nerves and brilliant performances, both from our own team and some of the stars of the sport. World records were smashed, personal bests achieved and medals won.
In between cheering on team mates and eating lots of food I swung a few kettlebells and ran the streets of foggy Hamburg. There is no room for snobbery in kettlebell sport, the elite warm up and train on the same mats as everyone else. I spent a happy few moments watching Jonny Benidze warming up with 32kg, amazing! Leaning over a balcony, cheering on an athlete I dropped my glasses on one of the judges when he was taking a break, whoops! The atmosphere was great, at one point several hundred athletes hung over the balconies and cheered on Ksenia as she completed her snatch set alone on her flight. Afterwards she was kind enough to pose for a photograph with us.
Sadly I missed coach receiving his medal as I had decided to go to bed early. I’m very proud to be coached by such a great athlete. Not deterred by injury and setback, he has walked the talk, training hard and remaining positive.
Sunday morning I was really nervous and took a quiet walk around the locality before going to the stadium. However, once I arrived I felt better. The veteran’s competition is on the final day and both Andrew and I found this hard, so we were both relieved to be performing at last.
My flight was the penultimate fight. I had to change my travel arrangements because this ran so late on Sunday afternoon. In fact many athletes had left, including most of my team and my coach. Thankfully Andrew, Will and Mark were still around. Mark Stroud was brilliant. He steadied my nerves during my first competition in Kilkenny and he really helped me before my set in Hamburg too. My hamstrings were really painful and tight due to tension and sitting around for four days, so he gave me advice and helped me stretch. The great atmosphere helped too, lots of good feeling off the platform.
My moment in the sun came all too soon. I felt unusually calm as I walked out onto the platform. Mark and made a good job of chalking my kettlebell and we didn’t have much time to think before we heard 3,2,1 lift! My opponents were huge, 60kg and 65kg, 10kg more than I, so I knew I was up against it and had thought of making a complaint early in the competition. However I quickly realised I wouldn’t get far, so I made the best of a difficult situation. My judge was very strict about hesitating to allow him to count so I could not snatch at speed despite my grip holding out. Half way through I heard an opponent’s kettlebell fall and I knew I’d won silver, but could not keep up with my heavy neighbour (My coefficient score was higher in the end, by two points, but only absolute scores count). Mark encouraged me to go for it in the last minute but the judge held me back. The ten minutes went by in a flash, 185 reps, a PB but not what I’d hoped for. However, very proud to have won silver in a World Championship. Walking out to collect my medal was an incredible moment.
The support from friends, family and other athletes has been amazing. My partner made special mention about the warmth of the kettlebell community during an event like this. There is a lovely picture of my own children and their partners cheering me on during my set.
This week I’ve been relaxing a bit, drinking alcohol for the first time since September and enjoying some light circuit classes. My new program starts tomorrow, next year I would like to try the amateur, adult competition with 16kg. The next few months are going to be a challenge!