Accentuate the positive

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to write something I could share about my performance at the British Championships on the 16 July. When you win, or when meet your goals, it’s easy to find the positive, and addressing the faults and negatives feels safe. When you fall short, and make mistakes, however, there’s a tricky line between beating yourself up, and looking honestly and usefully at what you need to fix, and between sinking into disappointment, and acknowledging what you have achieved anyway. And wallowing is horrid to read. So here’s a happy post about a bad day.


So, how did it actually go?

Not so well.

Three lifts went up, but only one counted.

I rushed my first lift (70kg) and was too quick off the chest. My second lift of 70kg was fine. My third lift of 73kg was given two reds, because my bum lifted from the bench.


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(videos: one of each lift, kindly taken by Zoe)

So I came in fourth, with a 70kg lift at 48.0kg bodyweight. I’m not happy with this.

Reasons, not excuses

I loathe making excuses, but I’ve been reminded by people who care about me that I need to remember and acknowledge some of the reasons I’m not at the top of my form at the moment. Most importantly, that it’s been a difficult spring, and I lost a lot of training, a lot of sleep, and a lot of focus when dealing with my father’s illness and death.

With a little hindsight, just getting back to training, and competing at the British feels like an achievement. I didn’t back out. I was on the platform six weeks after arranging his funeral. Even if I did not perform as I had hoped, it was a big step back towards my goals, and towards honouring my dad’s principle: do your best. (He didn’t believe in trying, either. Just doing.)

Annoyingly, on the day, my nerve damage was playing havoc, and I had no feeling in my right leg or glutes. Which made it head to judge my position on the bench (such as whether my bum was up or down on that side.) That said, it shouldn’t be coming up anyway, and I should not be relying on that sensation to give me the cue.

Enough of the negative, tell me the good things

Three lifts went up, with no struggle.

I have now pressed over 1.5 times my own weight on the platform.

My strength felt solid, and even though I messed up, I did not get into my own head, and start second-guessing and doubting things. I never doubted that any of the lifts would go up. Not even for a flickering moment.

After a bad detour into comfort eating and poor nutrition (hello custard creams!) I managed to get my weight back down to 48kg, just 200g over my last comp weight. Still recomping, but I’m securely and comfortably within the 50kg class.

The mistakes I made are fixable or avoidable.

It’s fantastic to lift at a venue like the Ricoh Arena.

I am now Internationally Classified, with an IPC licence.

I have one more chance to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. So, I’m not out yet.

Being supported


(Photograph: On the platform, with Matt, just before setting up for a lift)

I get incredible support from some amazing people. Their belief in me sustains me even when I go a bit wobbly with doubt. (I’m going to write another post about this, but, for now… ) Two of them were there with me in Coventry: my coach, Matt, and my sister, Louise. That Matt flew back from his holiday for a 12 hour stay to ensure he was there with me was a huge gesture–on top of the practical and solid support he gives me. Just knowing he was doing that made it possible for me to do this. And not waver from that, even when things were at their lowest.

And my big sister? Aye, she’s always had my back:

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(photograph of a squishy-faced baby wonky donkey and her big sister. Awww.)

So what do I do to fix things?

Keep getting stronger, and focus my training on the technical issues. That would cover both the “get strong” and the “get good” parts of the deal.

That means I have already started training to use the strap again. There’s an option, with para powerlifting, to have one or two straps across your legs and round the bench, to secure you. Everyone who competes has a lower body disability of some kind, and greater or lesser control of their legs and leg position. I’ve used it in the past, but I’ve not been using it for the past year, because I often train alone and so it’s hard to get consistency. But, if that’s going to keep my bum firmly planted on the bench, then I’ll get used to it and work with it, whatever it takes. Because it would be crazy to give away any more lifts for an avoidable reason.

Oh, and slow down. No more rushing. No more micro-pauses. Use the strength and show the refs a good solid stop.


And a little musical finale…

Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear
About the eliminatin’ of the negative
And the accent on the positive
And gather ’round me children if you’re willin’
And sit tight while I start reviewin’
The attitude of doin’ right

You’ve gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom, down to the minimum
Otherwise pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene
So: Get good, get strong, and get it done. Easy, right?

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