Chapter Twenty: Manchester fast approaching & Major set-backs
Six weeks out from the Games, Luke assured me that I would almost certainly lift at 58kg. Prior to that conversation I had been hanging around a bodyweight of 57kg in case I might have to drop. When Luke told me 58kg would most likely be the call, I started to eat up and my weight went up to nearly 60kg.
A week later on 23rd June 2002, we had our NSW State Championships. My training had been going really well and I had cleaned 105kg a couple of times, just missing the jerk. I really wanted it in competition. Weighing 59.5kg in this competition I started off well, snatching 85kg. Then moving on to the Clean and Jerk I got my first lift on 95kg, then 100kg on my second attempt. On my third attempt we went for 105kg. I cleaned it, easier than I ever had before, but missed the jerk, again in front. This time though as I pushed the jerk and it went forward, I felt a pain in my left shoulder.
All week I hoped it wasn’t serious, perhaps it was just a small strain or pull, as it had been improving every day. Five days later on 28th June, I went and saw our NSW Institute of Sport doctor designated to Weightlifting. Dr Kuah gave me the news that the MRI scan I’d had the day before confirmed I had a small tear to my cartilage in my shoulder, plus ‘scuffing’ to the rotator cuff tendon. I drove home in tears. I was frustrated that I had given up everything and had been training so hard all year and just when I reach my target weights, now it seemed any medal prospects looked blown. I knew I had to try and stay positive and the Doc said I could probably start training again properly next week, but this really affected my mental state. Will I be able to handle the pain? How rusty will my technique be? Will I still be able to lift the same weight? These were all the questions running through my mind. Part of me knew I had to put negative thoughts out of my head. Part of me thought “I have come this far and I’m not going to let this get me down” Another part of me was full of doubt. “I guess I’ll just have to wait and see” I decided. In the meantime, I could still squat and do pulls, so hopefully I wouldn’t lose my leg/back strength. I was hoping everything would be alright, given time heals and I still had a few weeks left before the Games.
On Sunday 30th June, one month prior to the Games, I did something totally outside of weightlifting. I did my motorcycle test for my “P’s” (provisional license) and passed. Considering how depressed and worried I had been the past week it was nice to do something to take my mind off weightlifting. I came home to a beautiful bunch of flowers and a card from my thoughtful fiancé (lucky I passed) and to celebrate we ate a fruit cake and a huge bag of peanut M&M’s.
Then at 9 o’clock that night I received a telephone call from Luke. He had made the decision that I would drop to 53kg, as his latest research showed that would be where I would have the best chance of medals. I was happy with his decision but all I could think at the time was “if only he had called an hour earlier…” before I had just eaten a big bag of M&Ms and half a fruit cake! Oh yeah, it was also a really big secret and I was not to tell anyone! Luke was concerned about how others would react, particularly because the team selected had another 53kg lifter (Seen Lee). Although we were allowed to take two lifters in one category.
As my weight by now was up around 60kg this meant I had 7 kg to lose in only 4 weeks. So, I started another diet. This one would have to be the strictest I’d ever been on.
For the next two weeks not only was I not supposed to do any heavy overhead work, I was also now on a strict diet to drop weight quickly and effectively without losing strength.
Training at first went as well as could be expected. I was managing to do my tailored program, still 13 sessions a week, without any pain. The bodyweight started dropping in line with my schedule too, although I was starving. This all played on my mind a great deal. Recovering from an injury while trying to drop weight, I couldn’t help worrying what effect all of this would have on my medal chances. Starving as well as worrying, I am pretty sure I was Miss Grumpy through all this!
Then on Thursday 4th July I woke up with a killer sore throat. I couldn’t believe it. Kick me when I was down. The next day Friday 5th July my throat felt better but the cold had moved to my sinus. I felt well enough to train but Luke dropped my training to two sessions that day. That night I had a great session. I was allowed to Snatch, only up to 60kg, but the good news was I felt no pain! Also I jerked 80kg no problems. I was only supposed to go to 70kg but I sneaked in a 75kg and 80kg when the coaches weren’t looking (Lucky I wasn’t caught!). I managed Cleans up to 95kg only as I was still feeling a bit weak thanks to my head cold. My weight was around 58.1kg so it needed to come down a bit more but I started feeling a little more positive. Although I was sick of meat and vegetables already and it had only been 5 days of dieting.
By Saturday 6th July I felt a lot better all round. Training went well again, I managed to Snatch 70kg in the afternoon, thanks to ‘Sinutab’ for clearing my nose (after checking it wasn’t on the ‘banned’ list). I was certainly feeling more positive, hoping I could do some big Snatches in the next week or two.
Now it was time to pack again. This was difficult on this occasion, as I was to be away for six weeks, in three different climates. First stop was Melbourne, leaving the next day for another training camp.
Coming up next – Chapter 21: Another training camp in Melbourne