When 29 year old Tom Duer saw the clean and jerk ladder on the CrossFit Games 18 months ago, he thought it looked like fun and wanted to give it a try. Jacob “Rabbit” Wyatt, 24, simply discovered the lifts as a means to get stronger and faster for sprinting when he was competing in track and field.
Neither athlete found instant success in weightlifting. Duer explains that when he started he was tight everywhere and lacked mobility. For a long time, his power snatch and power clean were better than his full lifts in both. And Wyatt, used to using his legs for sprinting, loved squatting but hated snatching.
Likewise, both found that they struggled when it came time to compete on the platform. In his first meet, Duer went 1 for 6, making only his very last lift of the day, for a total of 0. And Wyatt explains that he “used to freak out before meets” where the pressure to perform in the spotlight is different than what he was used to as a sprinter.
But in May, both men while be competing at USA-W Nationals as a part of Travis Mash’s team Mash Mafia- Duer for the first time, and Wyatt for the third (In 2015, Wyatt placed 12th in the 77kg class).
So how did these men go from being unable to perform full snatches and “freaking out” before meets to qualifying for and competing in the largest meet at the national level?
Both credit a good work ethic and positive mentality.
Duer explains that he has never been the most talented athlete, but that he learned from an early age that he could be successful if he outworked everyone else. To do this, he prioritized mobility work and hired Travis Mash to be his coach. To those who are looking to qualify for the American Open or Nationals, he suggests, “Get a good coach, work hard, be consistent, and be patient.”
Wyatt, who works part time on top of training, says that while “working can definitely affect training, I try to keep a happy, positive attitude at all times and it helps keep my energy levels up!” That energy is needed as he snatches and clean and jerks to 90% 3 to 4 days a week in addition to squatting every training session, focusing on pulls, and strengthening his back.
Because of their hard work and their insistence on finding success in weightlifting, both have become confident on the platform.
Duer believes that “action breeds confidence” so he competes as often as possible to become comfortable under pressure. His philosophy has worked. He explains that, “It has given me more confidence. When you only have three chances to make a lift, you learn very quickly [that] you can rise up under pressure and accomplish great things under adverse conditions.”
Over time, Wyatt’s platform confidence has developed as well. He says, “I’m so much more comfortable on stage now. I’ve gotten used to the noise and the crowds… the buzzers and cheering. I’m so at home on stage that I always life better” at competition.
What began because of simple curiosity for Duer and a training tool for Wyatt has turned into a full blown passion for both men. In the future, Duer who is a full time coach and owner at Pittsburgh Fitness Project, plans to continue to lift as long as it makes him feel alive. Wyatt hopes to train and compete until 2024 and then wants to coach in order to continue contributing to weightlifting.
But today, both men are looking to Nationals where Duer lifts as a 105 and Wyatt as a 77. Duer aims to total 335 with a 150 snatch and 185 clean and jerk and wants a top 5 finish while Wyatt is striving to hit a 290 total and wants to earn a spot on the University World Team.
If their past histories of overcoming obstacles and insisting on success are any indication, we can look forward to watching both Mash athletes deliver incredible performances at Nationals.
The Barbell Press would like to wish Tom Duer and Jacob Wyatt the best of luck at Nationals and will be reporting their lifting times for those who want to watch live prior to the start of the National event.