European Masters 2015 – Bangor, Wales

If you read the previous post at the end of March, you may see a comment that I did not feel so good.  Here is a brief summary of the story from there:

With some intestinal challenges and what I felt was a yeast infection, I went twice to the doctors in two weeks in early April before Easter to see what was going on.  After the second visit, I was sent to the radiologist to scan my intestine to see what was happening.  What was happening turned out to be an 8+ cm, 600 gram fibroid in my uterus, sitting on my intestines.  Needless to say that required surgery for removal in the form of a total abdominal hysterectomy on 23 April. Or in the terminology of those of us who deal with this health issue as now I am one, I had a TAH-BSO, which was cancer-free.  I also had a mammogram which was also clear and good.  And I lost 4.5 kg from surgery, which put me back in the right weight class.  😉

So I missed the all womens in May in Austria that I had registered for, and was faced with missing the European Masters as well.  Fortunately, last October I had passed my exams for my IWF Cat 2 international referee license.  So being cleared by the surgeon to fly after six weeks postop,  we went to Bangor to referee and not to lift.

I am glad I went for several reasons.  The most important reason for me at this time is that these are ‘my people’.   They get it when I discussing rehab and coming back, they support and appropriately caution me on recovery from experience, and I got a lot of encouragement, empathy and love, which was really needed about now.  Hard to explain in any other way than these are my friends, even if I only see them once or twice a year, and they come from the same mindset I do.   Thanks!!  Lots of appreciation to my friends from Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Cyprus, England, Wales, Scotland, France and especially Denmark as we were at the same hotel again as we were in Azerbaijan!  If you see the photo below with the screen behind me, the tall lady to the left of me in red and black is Dorthe, a lovely long time friend from Denmark and she won gold.  I had to get the gold medal on her on the first level of the rostrum, which gave us all a humorous moment as we both adapted to reach each other. She joked later she thought she was going to have to hug me and pull me up so I could put the medal on her.

So instead of lifting photos, you get referee photos in my cute monkey suit.  Starting recovery which is a slow process, but hope to be back to fitness in the early Fall. 🙂

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National interclub series 2015: round two, Seraing (Liege)

Lesser turnout today, maybe due to the weather, the football or the fact it is the week before the Easter holidays…?

Anyway, I was not that well this week, so I did good with 5/6 and a total close to the one of three weeks ago.  Only six women lifting, and only three plateaus this time.   Many thanks to the friend of Isabelle from Gent whose name I believe was Inge who took photos for me.

Now a bit of rest before gearing up for Austria and the all womens international in May.

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National interclub series 2015, round one: Waregem. For me, start of lifting year 10.

First national interclub round (round one of three) for 2015 yesterday in Waregem, where they had new Eleiko bars and new big plastic training discs, so happy that the equipment was good for little old ladies like me. 😉

Got five for six, just a small mistake on my first snatch, which I redid and fixed, and then jumped several kilos up to get back to where I wanted to be.  After my injury in January, happy to be back to reasonable fitness.

This is my tenth year lifting competitively, so getting to be an old hand at local comps.  Refereed in the third plateau, did the ladies weigh-in, and was generally helpful. 🙂


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Belgian senior national championships, 13 Dec, Zaventem

At the sports hall of my club’s home city, we hosted the National seniors yesterday.  At the age of 50, I still qualify as a senior in Belgium as we (currently) have no minima for cadets and women for the national due to lack of numbers.   That may change as we had 14 women sign-in to lift yesterday.

I got the gold for the -75kg senior category, and two good ladies took the cadet and junior titles, so there is more coming up the pike!   Got all six lifts with all white lights, so it was a good outcome.

My coach Tino put a lot of effort into the organisation of this, and thanks to all my clubmates who helped load, rack, move stuff, pack stuff, and generally stood around and applauded.

Photos below.   I went home after for cheese fondue, wine, chocolate and a hot bath.  Yet I still woke up at 4am with the need for a shower for the traps. Shot of me and my teammates below, plus others.  Thanks to both Dorian and my hubby for the photos.

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Flemish and Wallonian regional champs, 17 Oct, La Louviere, Belgium

Pepto-Bismol had a phrase several years ago: The last mile is the longest.  Well, this week, and this day in particular, ran into overtime. Up now early Sunday morning due to an aching body and overactive sinuses. Been on anti-bacterials since Tuesday, not a good way to lift, really takes it out of you!

Set the scene:  Ill for a few weeks now with a bacterial sinus infection, Alea flies Tuesday to an academic conference to give a paper Thursday morning, and then flies back from this conference in Portugal Friday night to not only compete on Saturday, but to take again her international IWF Level 2 referee practical exam (along with the written, which was not the issue for me last Dec.).  She arrives at 10:30am, as she has to do the weigh-in for the ladies group.

Sat. 19:30:  Alea arrives back home, having done a decent 5 out of 6 for overall third place finish of all of the ladies, as well as having refereed for 3.5 hours with more than a 95 percent rating on her practical exam.  And she only missed one out of a 100 on her written exam. And just in time to watch BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing live (and eat a pizza)! [Note: Either Caroline or Frankie to win, or perhaps Jake?]

[Note: Sunday 4am: Body requests a hot shower and some more sinus meds, as cannot sleep due to discomfort in shoulders/neck due to again having her first rib move near her neck. Not the first or the last time….]

Photos from various team mates and audience members with my camera below. Because of my illness and travel, I dialed back my lifting numbers and focused on good lifts and a workout vs. a comp.  Just missed the last jerk due to my shoulder, could not fix it properly with rib stiffness.  Taking a rest now, including getting rid of this sinus bug!!  (How much can one cough and ref?)







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World Masters Championships 2014 – Copenhagen, Denmark

It took me a while to post this, as coming back directly to a very full week at work. But the Danish Federation did a great job for us, and all we needed was there for use.

I did well in Austria in July, and then I trained in August, but not as much as I could have given the workload in mid August.   So I was happy with a bronze medal, but not happy with my own performance.   But as you can only peak twice a year, asking for a third time was a bit much.  But I was too tense, and nearly screwed up completely on the snatch, only getting my last one by sheer power snatching.    Clean and jerk fared better, so total was not a complete disaster. Last one in slow-mo below….

I want to thank Clint Darden (and his lovely wife Nefi) for his great media work for me, and my darling husband who I gave anxiety to from my less than successful snatching efforts.

I am now on a break, and go back into the gym this week for some power work and fitness.

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Europa Cup – Stubenberg am See, Austria – 19 July 2014

This was a well-organised and enjoyable Saturday at a lake resort, with international Master lifters and a group of under 17 (U17) getting together for a friendly competition.  Many thanks to the organiser, Gerhard Peya, who puts on a good event with proper equipment, good refereeing and a good atmosphere for all.  I won my age group, and got the largest trophy of my career to-date, which did limit my shopping later in Vienna as it took up a chunk of my luggage!

New Belgian Masters records for me for clean and jerk and for total.  Got all six lifts, so was a good day.

Next up, the World Masters in Copenhagen the last weekend of August. Diet time!!  After a week in Austria, I need to live on some salad for a while. 😉

Photos below.  Lifting at the lake had its own challenges, mainly the hot sun and the bikini and speedo clad audience. 🙂

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Belgian Masters and 5th International Masters and Ladies Open, Waregem – Belgium

When they announced at the end of last year that the Belgian Masters would be moved from Sept to this date in June, I was not happy for a few reasons.  The main reason was that this is my birthday, and to be quite specific, this was my 50th birthday.  For me, birthday number 50 is/was a big deal, but I decided to go and do it and celebrate with the family the day after.

Nice birthday.   Got five for six with all white lights (only one miss with my 2nd snatch), my Masters title and won best woman overall by one sinclair point!  Having 60+ people/fellow lifters singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me when I got my trophy was a very nice touch (thanks to Myriam for frequently mentioning my birthday!!  😉  ).

Very long 12 hour day, and the body waking me up around 3:30am makes it longer, but now we go celebrate with a nice meal and a family gathering.    Next stop in three weeks, Stubenberg am See in Austria for a friendly Masters open.

Many thanks to fellow lifter Louis Denayer for taking photos for me, as well as his excellent lifting after a shoulder injury. I hope I am as good as he is when I’m in my 70s!

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11th International Women´s – Kids, Girls, Senior & Masters Weightlifting Grand Prix, Speyer Germany – May 2014

I learned a few valuable lessons this trip.

1.  You CAN find a good coach in the parking lot.  😉

2. You can become close friends with people you only see once a year.

3.  When driving off at a rest stop exit on the highway, remember to mind the road trash.

OK – I left Belgium by car on Thursday 29 May, for a competition on Friday and Saturday.  I lifted on the first day (Friday) in the afternoon.   When I arrived Thursday afternoon, I went to the venue, got my accreditation and invoice, weighed myself, sighed deeply and before heading into town, I saw my favorite 14 year old lifter Maria-Luana Grigoriu of Romania (in the pink outfit next to me) in training and visited with her lovely father. She did a great job at this competition coming in first in her age category, and she was in the European Under 15s last year in Lithuania with a bronze medal in the clean and jerk.


I then headed back into town for a light dinner and an ice cream (gave up on losing kg, focused on energy and rest).  Did not get much rest, unfortunately, and made it to the venue the next day reasonably early.

The joy of having my car meant that I could dump my gear in the back, and carry very little with me.  I was alone, so had to organise photo taking and coaching.  I convinced Amna (UAE) and her sister to take photos for me, and talked briefly to the Irish team about borrowing some coaching, if it was possible.  Here is Amna and our new friend Christina (GER) doing a selfie. 🙂 The two of us coached her on Saturday to a new PB total!


Then I went out to the car to get my gear after weigh-in.   And who do I find parking next to my car?  My long-time lifting colleague/friend/competitor/etc.  Susanne Kuettler (GER).    I say ‘competitor’ with a wry smile, as she could always outlift me by at least 40 kilos.  She has known me since I started lifting back in 2005.  She is currently not Olympic lifting due to a tendon issue, although she is still internationally competing in powerlifting.  She came down for the day from her house to watch the event as it has more than 17 nations of women lifters, and some of them are really world-class. (See Michaela Breeze snatch a new British record in this video, it brought the house to its feet!)

I asked Susanne if she would coach me, and she agreed.   Well-sorted, especially as she knows my lifting from experience. And she knew when/where to stick my head out the window when I lost air after the second clean and jerk!

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Although I missed both my second lifts, I still made my third lifts close to my plan and got a decent result with third place in my overall age group.

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Made some new found friends, saw a number of old friends – the kind you see once a year, and lots of promises to meet up in Copenhagen for the World Masters in August.

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Ah, but having a car this morning was a challenge, as I had a flat tire from debris on the exit ramp for the rest stop in the south of Belgium about 9:30 this morning. This made my trip very delayed on the way home.  Temp tire placed on by Touring Secours meant that I could only drive up to 80 km/h, so it took an extra 75 minutes to get home.  🙁

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Back to work with a little rest, as the next comp is the Belgian Masters – on my 50th birthday!!  (Argh.)



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European Masters 2014 – Kazincbarcika, Hungary

I competed on Sunday 18 May, lifting at noon with six other women in their early 50s.  Yup, I turn 50 in about one month’s time.

I won the silver medal in my age/weight category.  🙂

I have waited until I got back from travels to publish this, as it was okay but a bit wet and tiring from the travel to northern Hungary (about 2.5 hours from Budapest). Fun/crazy trip back with two French lifters and our smartphones.  😉

Train travel

Got 4 for 6, or as I say 4.5 for six as I missed the last jerk.  Okay with my total, as I know I could have gotten the missed lifts on the basis of power, mistakes were technical. Next stop: Speyer, Germany for an all Ladies competition!

LOTS of photos, and thanks to Sabina’s husband Frank for his contribution of excellent lifting shots.  As per normal, we had local cultural dancing, etc.   As not per normal, we had two Hungarian ladies borrowing/sharing my extra lifting tricot AT THE SAME TIME ;-), my new buddy Nefi (thanks to Clint for the photo of the two of us below) wearing plastic wrap to lose weight (gift of the organisers to each athlete was a roll of plastic wrap),  and roses for the ladies that in one case caused a small accidental poke in the eye of a competitor.   Ah, lifting!

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