Every American Olympic lifter dreams of competing in the USA-W National event. Yet this year, qualification totals were significantly harder than ever before making it difficult for many athletes to hit the standard.
Among those who qualified are Lindsay Kinard, Kristin Pope, and Carolyn Proulx. Qualifying was no lucky coincidence for any of these women. They are National caliber athletes because of strong athletic backgrounds, incredible work ethic, and great qualify coaching.
Lindsay is a 58 kg lifter who competes for McKenna’s Gym under the coaching of Michael McKenna. 2016 will mark the third year Lindsay has competed at Nationals which is taking place May 5-8th, 2016.
Kristin is coached by Danny Camrago and lifts for Team Oly Concepts as a 63 kg lifter. She, too, has competed at Nationals twice before.
And Carolyn, who has qualified for the first time, is a 69 kg lifter from Milford Athletics and is coached by Jason Leydon.
Lindsay has a blackbelt in karate and played softball for 10 years. She explains that karate and softball, “helped me to develop discipline, learn how to set goals, and of course, taught me how to be competitive.” This background undoubtedly has given her an edge with Olympic lifting.
She first became interested in lifting after watching the 2008 Olympics. At that point, she said, “I told my brother I wanted to learn how to clean and jerk. We found a local CrossFit gym and started getting involved, but it was not until 2013 that I started strictly weightlifting.”
Once she started lifting, she quickly realized how intense training could be, both mentally and physically. However, a disciplined athlete, she currently trains five days a week, doing doubles three of those days. There are days when she is exhausted, but she “enjoys the struggle” and states that it is “the tough days when you feel like crap, but train anyway that make you stronger.”
Lindsay is motivated to push through difficult days of training because her coach believes in her. She explains, “My platform presence and confidence has changed because of my coaching… I’m a completely different weightlifter than I was three years ago. Weightlifting has given me confidence. I love being a part of a community that embraces strong women.”
At Nationals, Lindsay aims to snatch 75kg and clean and jerk 95kg.
When Kristin began weightlifting over two years ago after taking a break from CrossFit, she faced many challenges. A former level 10 gymnast, Kristin already had a strong work ethic as well as a great deal of power and speed. However, mobility was her “weakest link” as she had many injuries from her past athletic life that she had to contend with. Already, she had experienced five ankle surgeries, a hip avulsion fracture, and a cardiac ablation for tachycardia. In short, her injuries meant that when she began Olympic weightlifting, she could not yet squat below parallel.
However, Kristin still credits gymnastics for her success in weightlifting. Like Lindsay, she believes that her previous athletic career helped her to develop a tough mentality for both training and the platform.
In her first meet, she almost qualified for that year’s Nationals, coming in just 2kg under the total. At the time, she did not even realize what the qualifying total was. She says, “I like that it started this way. I didn’t start out chasing something. I got on the platform to compete for the first time simply for the love of the game.”
She suggests that all weightlifters focus on enjoying the sport and working hard rather than focus completely on qualifying totals. She says, “My advice would be to focus more on technique and building strength and less on chasing numbers to get to certain meets. If you build the fundamentals properly (which I did in the wrong order), the numbers will climb on their own in due time!”
With her coach, Kristin is doing just that. She trains eight times a week and continues to focus on her form. She pays as much attention to her eating habits as she does to recovery saying, “I am a flexible dieter. I count macros and eat a substantial amount of carbs and very high protein. I use cryotherapy for recovery as well as dry needling, cupping, and weekly massage therapy. I sleep at least nine hours a night and I use RomWod 2-3 times a day.”
Kristin wants to total over 180kg at Nationals and hopes to one day represent Team USA at an international meet.
Carolyn is an established athlete in the CrossFit world. Last year, she was a member of the eight person roster for Team Milford, the second place team at The CrossFit Games and in 2014 she competed with the team at Regionals. She is also a member of the Boston Iron for the National Pro Grid League. A team player, she is forgoing this year’s USA-W Nationals, the first she’s qualified for, to focus on competing with her CrossFit team at the NorthEast Regionals. That, however, does not take away from the impressive feat of qualifying in the first place.
Like Kristin, Carolyn has a background in gymnastics that has proven to be useful in both CrossFit and weightlifting. She claims that gymnastics “has helped with body awareness and [with] overall, pure strength.” This competitive background has also helped her to keep calm under pressure which is an absolute necessity on the platform.
Being so strong was at first a hindrance to Carolyn who says she “struggled with learning and being consistent with technique instead of relying so much on her strength.” When she first started she says she, “could only power snatch and I didn’t really understand the movement. It was a frustrating process at first, but seeing the progress now has been exciting.”
That progress can be attributed to Carolyn’s dedication. Despite working full time at an insurance agency and living 45 minutes from the gym, she manages to do doubles five days a week. The other two days she either swims or does an active recovery session. Her commitment to her training is something that others might balk at. She says, “I get up at 3:45 am every day, go to the gym for my first session, and go to work. Then [I head] back to the gym for my second session, and I try to be in bed at 8:30 pm.”
That work ethic is exactly why Carolyn has found such success in both CrossFit and weightlifting. She believes that anyone who wants to qualify for the American Open or for Nationals should do as she has done. She suggests, “Find a coach you trust, put in the work, and have fun.”
Carolyn hopes for another successful CrossFit season with her team and plans to turn her attention to weightlifting and competing at the American Open once the CrossFit Games are over.
Looking at all three athletes, it’s clear they have a few things in common. Each woman draws on her background for strength both physically and mentally. They are all committed to their training, often pushing forth and doing what others will not. And they all agree that success in the gym is reliant upon what is done outside of the gym as well. Any athlete who wants to find success in their sport should heed the advice of these women and look to them for inspiration.