After a flight from Bournemouth to Dublin the team took a Taxi straight from the Airport to Kilkenny. Arriving late in the evening the priority was to get weighed in before the 10.30pm cut off. We headed off from the B&B with our driver Dave Edwards (yes Dave from KBC!!) who met us there during his Ireland break following his Hernia op. Also driving was our very friendly B&B owner who offered to show us the way and take us there - Thanks Eamon.
After a short journey we arrived at the Training Rooms and were greeted by Mark Stapleton in one room and the girls by a fellow competitor in the other. Weighing went pretty much as we thought apart from Tom who weighed in at 78kg! wanting to get under 78kg he eventually ended up completely naked on the scales but still couldn't quite get under. It was entertaining never the less and gave us something to laugh about during a good meal at one of Kilkenny's local hotels.
Before we knew it morning had arrived and following a cooked breakfast and some nervous fuzzy heads we packed our kit and made our way to O'Laughlin Gaels GAA Club. As we arrived the atmosphere was tense and the competitors were building to what eventually became a crowd of over 90 from Ireland, England, Scotland and the Netherlands. After a short introduction from Mark Stapleton and the Irish National Anthem, all the teams paraded around the hall in traditional Kettlebell Sport style.
The Competition got underway but for the KBC team there was going to be a long wait as Biathlon was first and Long Cycle was not due to start until 3.30. We watched most of the heats in the Jerk with some very impressive displays, especially Abigail Johnson with 190 Jerks with a 20kg kettlebell and Eddie Sheehan with 105 Jerks with 2x 32kg kettlebells!! Amazing lifting. The morning seemed to last for ever even with a trip to the local shopping centre to take our mind off things for a while but eventually 3pm came around and Annie, Charlotte and myself got ready and started warming up.
Annie was up first and was lifting a 16kg bell for the first time in competition. She was nervous as were all of us and she was hopeful to just get through 10 minutes without putting it down. Her start time came around quickly and she got to work with a strong, powerful technique. 74 reps later she was done and lasted the full 10 minutes - determination and guts got her through and this set was the first indication that the judging here was not going to be as lenient as it was at the English Open. Annie had a few no reps from the judge but still a great result for her first time with the 16kg and a first place result. See her set here-
Charlotte was up next and was looking strong and confident. Again Charlotte had a difficult start and probably the toughest judge (Mark Stapleton). Mark indicated that Charlotte was not still long enough on locking out and this lost her quite a few reps. She continued with strong determination which in the circumstances is a very hard thing to do when your breathing and rhythm had been thrown. Charlotte eventually got into a good rhythm and showed she had a good solid technique once it was slowed down slightly. She finished strong with 119 repetitions with an 8kg Bell and finished in first place. A brilliant result for her first competition. See her set here -
It was my turn next and time to tackle 2x 28kg bells for the first time in competition. In training i had managed 74 reps and felt strong when i did it so was confident that 80 was possible. I started with this in mind at 8rpm and stayed at this pace for just under nine minutes. In retrospect it was too fast and I finished on 71 reps with 50 seconds to go! looking back now I don't know why I put them down but that's easy to say when you can quickly forget the pain you are in. I could blame the late night, the lack of food throughout the day, the nervous tension of waiting and the competition pressure and to be honest they all could and did play a part but mostly I was too ambitious with my target and hadn't factored a different approach when my plan stopped working. You live and learn and I still managed to win my Category and be Absolute winner and achieve the numbers I needed for Candidate for Master of Sports rank so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself. See Will's video here -
Nick's turn was next and we were all confident he would get a good result. Nick seems to thrive on the pressure and with his lovely lady watching him, he didn't want to disappoint. He stuck to his plan with a solid and comfortable 8rpm with the 20kg bells. He kept the pace until 5 minutes then got faster and faster! he finished with an amazing 90 reps and looked like he could have gone for longer- amazing result and first place. Well Done Nick and I'm sure we will see even better in the future. See his Video here -
Tom was last to go from the KBC team and was also competing with two 20kg bells. After seeing Nick just do 90 reps, the pressure was on and he started strong. Only a few minutes in there were words being had between Mark Stapleton and Tom's judge. He wasn't happy with Tom's lock out and wanted him still at the lockout point as he did with Charlotte. Some reps were deducted and this obviously threw Tom's rhythm and breathing as well as his overall focus. He continued Strong and powerfully and with good technique as he always does but the pressure of the judges distraction was causing him to rush the lockout and get several more no counts. Tom finished with 69 reps but in reality he had done far more overhead than this and was much closer to 80 if not more. Tom was unlucky to fall foul of the tough judging and took the brunt of what we all realised was a factor that we hadn't considered when training. He still achieved a great result and silver Medal and i think if I had been in his position I would have lost all concentration and given up long before 10 minutes was up. This shows his level of strength and mental determination and what will one day make him an exceptional kettlebell lifter and I hope Master of Sports Rank. See Toms video here -
Overall we had a great weekend and came home with 4 gold a silver and a Trophy. Not bad for a days work. The main thing I hope we all gained and I hope all the other Members of KBC realise is that this is not an easy sport. It is getting bigger and there are more people getting involved in the sport and with this the standard improves. We may not always win or even get a medal when we compete and we may get reps disallowed when we compete. Whilst we train hard there are also many others training hard and wanting to win as much as we do. It is inevitable that if you travel to another country to compete that you'll find like minded people who are fit, strong, determined and that have the same strong will to win as you do. We can always come away and say "maybe i could have done this" or "I should have done that" or "I should have trained harder" but ultimately we did what we did at the time. The most important thing is to accept and understand why you did it and channel it into something positive for next time. The things that we find the hardest to achieve will ultimately give us the greatest pleasure - Giving up is not an option.
We are proud of what the Competition team achieved as just to have the guts to enter and stand on that platform takes courage. We are also proud of all the members of KBC that regularly attend the class and go through the physical and metal pain that we subject them to. It takes a certain type of person to want to keep doing such intense exercise but you will ultimately be the beneficiary of the sessions and we want you become stronger in mind as well as body by attending. Keep coming and keep lifting and remember the only limit you have is the one you set yourself.
Will and Annie