Matt and I had the opportunity to volunteer on Saturday at the International Weightlifting Federation's Weightlifting World Championships in Anaheim and ... WOW. I haven't been so motivated to lift heavy things in a LONG time.
We snagged our first choice assignment - helping out in the Athlete's warm-up area. This meant we got to watch all the amazing athletes prepare for their chance on the international stage. As far as assignments go, it was a pretty sweet gig. Our primary responsibility was to clean up the warm-up area between sessions so each group had clean equipment and platforms. We also had to check athletes in and provide some 'bouncer' services to keep un-credentialed folks out of the area. Otherwise, we were able to watch the competition from the monitors in the area and observe the various warm-up approaches. Even as a volunteer, the energy was amazing and the cheering from those watching the stage echoed through the whole hall. I wasn't competing and I was getting nervous when athletes would make their way up to lift.
It was pretty exciting being 'on-duty' during the sessions where Mattie Rodgers and Harrison Maurus were lifting. The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist in the 77kg class, Mohamed Ehab from Egypt, was also lifting in Harrison's session and was certainly a sight to see. While the others began their warm-ups, he calmly rested. His starting lift was high enough that he only began his warm-ups once the first round of lifts began.
Harrison went on to earn bronze in both total and clean & jerk, the first Weightlifting World medals for the US in TWENTY years. With his second clean & jerk successful at 193kg, he set a new Youth World Record in the lift along, and new Senior, Junior, and Youth American records. Oh, and he is SEVENTEEN.
As for Mattie, she earned three bronze medals (snatch, clean & jerk, total). These were the first Weightlifting World medals for American women since 2005. As you can imagine, I fangirled a bit since I was getting the chance to wish Mattie good luck prior to her warm-ups. She was as nice and kind as she seems, and it was nice to see that attitude extended to not just coaches and IWF staff, but volunteers as well.
It was also fun to see the coaching strategy that goes on behind the scenes - the drama of deciding how much to increase a lift is pretty interesting. We were also told some of the ESPN coverage would include the warm-up area, so there is a possibility I made my international weightlifting debut!
Overall, if you get the chance to volunteer for an event like this - DO IT! It was a LONG day on our feet but it was such a unique perspective of weightlifting that brings a new appreciation to those who do it on such a large stage.