This past weekend was nothing short of AMAZING. Words can’t do it justice, you just had to be there to experience the epicness that went down at the 2nd Annual OKC Bay Area Kettlebell Championship. Leave it to John Wild, Nazo, Jason Dolby, Juliet and World Champion Denis Vasilev to put on a first class event. You guys pulled out all the stops on this one and it is evident that a lot of hard work, organization, and passion was poured into every single detail of this event. Between the judging, competing, coaching, and photo taking, you all did an incredible job multitasking to ensure that the event ran smoothly from start to finish for all of the 6.5 hours, while making us all feel like rock stars and I want to thank you all for that! You guys are all heart!
The event took place at John McNeil Studio Annex, a swanky photography art studio located in Berkeley California. Between the minimalistic white walls, beautiful stone floors, and lofty high ceilings were a juxtaposition of colourful kettlebells, chalk flying about, gireviks new and old from all around Canada and the US ready to sweat, bleed, and test their strength on the platform, and an energetic audience cheering us all on. It was a huge party with the main event taking place was at the front of the room. To kick things up a notch, the main stage was set with 4 platforms complete with digital timers/counters which Denis brought to us all the way from Russia.
This was easily the biggest kettlebell lifting event to ever take place on the west coast, if not North America. There were 95 lifts, 27 flights, 75 lifters, and 6.5 hours of non stop lifting excitement. This event had it all, including a warm up area equipped with every kettlebell weight and chalk, an exercise mat/foam rolling area, healthy snacks, and plenty of swag for sale that included tshirts, tanks, hoodies, bumper stickers, wrist guards, and even liquid chalk from Japan.
I arrived at the venue around 9:00am to weigh in. Unfortunately I was one of the few who couldn’t make weight the night before (was only .4kg away!!). This time I weighed in at 68.3kg (ahhh!!!) I had the option of removing some clothes to shed a bit more weight. Without my tank and shorts, I was down to 68kg, right on the dot. YESSS!!!! First victory of the day, I made weight!!! So things were off to a good start and eating food last night was not as sinful as it seemed.
My set was at 12:55 on the *lucky* 13th flight which I got to share with my fellow OKC Chu Hus – Shermayne, Cynthia, and Juliet. This gave me plenty of time to fuel up and cheer for my fellow lifters on the platform. The energy in the room throughout the course of the day was off the hook. I was so humbled and inspired by all the incredible lifters I got to watch. Being a lifter myself, there is an emotional connection whenever I get to see another lifter do their set. The emotions are raw, you can feel their strength, their weakness, their pain, their struggle, their victory, and you can’t help but want them to finish their time and make it through their set. If you lift you will know this feeling because you have been there before and have found the strength and endurance to come through to the other side, victorious and stronger.
Being my first time back in 2 years, this event meant just that much more to me. It was my comeback. I needed to prove to myself that I can get back to where I left off and push beyond that. As part of the OKC lifting team, I proudly wore the orange snatchman on my chest and was ready to bleed Orange.
A huge thank you goes out to my coach Jason Dolby for his patience, expert coaching, and putting up with me in those times when I just threw in ‘practice 10min sets’ for the heck of it or did epic rollerblades and workouts before my actual lifting sessions. But don’t worry, I always gave it my all, regardless, and made it my vendetta to hit those numbers and some every time. My nerves were on fire and a part of me just wanted some assurance that I can hit my numbers on the platform. I worked my ass off in training and was shooting for the stars. I wanted to be victorious. I wanted to make my coach proud. To show everyone that all those hours I had invested in my training would amount to something greater.
My ultimate goal was to get CMS with 126 reps within my 3 months of training but I didn’t even get close. Perhaps that wasn’t the most realistic goal but I love being competitive and will usually set the bar high for myself. I’ll get it next time for sure.
The end result I achieved Rank 1 in 16kg Long Cycle with 113 reps, which I am still stoked about! Before my set, I warmed up with some indian clubs, foam rolling, a few swings, and long cycle sets. By the time I hit the platform, I felt comfortable and relaxed. I tried to take it all in and enjoy every moment of the set. Though this proved more difficult towards the last couple of minutes.
I had a really strong start as I focused on making sure my technique looked clean and as perfect as possible. I felt good, like I could keep going. I got 61 reps on my right, and then there was the hand switch. I went at a decent pace for the first 2.5 minutes until things got a little rough and the bell began feeling heavy on my less dominant side. I pushed through the weakness, tried to find my breath again, finished my time, and got 52 reps total, with one ‘no count’. For the first time I actually tore my hands while competing. It was intense. They weren’t quite the numbers I had hoped for but I was still feeling pretty pumped after my set.
The camaraderie between everyone here was most admirable and a beautiful thing to see and be a part of. Every competitor who stepped onto the platform was cheered on, encouraged, and hugged afterwards by their coaches, friends, family members, and even fellow competitors. What I love about my OKC team mates is that we all share a special bond and friendship. We have each others backs and are always ready to help a fellow Chu Hu out. That’s what happens when you strip away the tension and seriousness of a kettlebell competition. It felt like we were all one big happy kettle family gathered together to lift, have fun, reach a higher level of lifting, all while cheering each other on to hit new PRs. This is Chu of how the OKC rolls.
This weekend has been most memorable. I made some amazing new friends, reunited with old friends – my kette brothers and sisters, and had the time of my life! With more patience and time under the bell, I know I will hit my numbers and eventually earn the titles of CMS (Candidate for Master of Sport) and MS (Master of Sport).
It’s only a matter of time. I’m back in this for the long haul. Everything that I want to achieve will come true but it’s not going to be easy and there will be challenges ahead. I won’t quit and will keep on lifting. Rep after rep, one set at a time. As the journey has just begun.
When John Wild said to me “Welcome home” the words resonated with me and I couldn’t help but feel sweat in my eyes as I was welcomed back into the cult we all love, respect, and call the Orange Kettlebell Club. How could I have ever left this happy place when it feels so good to be surrounded by such an amazing, supportive, smart, strong, motivating group of lifters and friends. I love you guys! You complete me and I am proud to be counted as one of you.
With that said, the fire has been reignited. Kettle’s where I belong and there’s no other place I’d rather be.