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The 2011 American Record Makers Was A Fabulous Event!


This free newsletter is to inform you of events, and thoughts regarding the training of weightlifters and the incorporation of the Olympics lifts and their derivatives into the training of athletes.


The planning started almost as soon as Emmy Vargas, Aileen Wu and Leslie Musser and I completed a weightlifting demonstration at the 2010 Los Angeles Fitness Expo. After a year in the planning stages, numerous conference calls, loads of e-mails and plenty of energy expenditure, this event finally came to be in a grand way at the 2011 edition of the Los Angeles Fitness Expo.

Our goal from the very beginning was to assemble a strong field and present a viewer-friendly event that would showcase weightlifting to a much bigger audience. I think we did that and more!

The Format

The format was to assemble a field of lifters who had achieved 90% of the qualifying total for each athlete’s respective national championships, i.e. juniors for national juniors, seniors for nationals. Each athlete would then be lifting against the national records in the appropriate age division and weight class. The lifters would then be ranked according to their percentages of their respective national records.

In this way we could have meaningful competition between athletes of different weight classes with the winners of each gender group earning a top prize of $1,000.00. Second and third place finishers would earn $500.00 and $300.00 respectively.

Aside from wanting to make this a great experience for the athletes, we were also concerned with putting together a quality show for an audience that might never have been a weightlifting competition live. After all, that’s the best way to experience the sport.

Short of the ’84 Olympics, this was the most well attended weightlifting event in Los Angeles history.

The Men

We were holding our collective breath as the first day’s competition commenced. After the sudden withdrawal of Senior World team member and clear favorite Collin Ito, the $1000.00 first prize was up for grabs. It then looked as though Junior World team member Spencer Moorman of Team Southern California would be the favorite even though he hadn’t competed since the Junior World’s last June. Unfortunately Spencer failed to complete an opening snatch of 145 kg, and then failed at 147 kg twice to bomb out.

SO… the surprise winner was newcomer Anthony Pomponio. Anthony lifted in his first meet ever last weekend to qualify for this event. He is a 23 year old 85 kg lifter who finished with 121 snatch and 151 clean & jerk to achieve 75.14% of the American record. He was discovered by Nick Frasca, a former training partner of Bill Starr. Assisting with Anthony’s coaching and probably taking over that role in the future was former national champion Kevin Winter who has relocated to the Palm Desert area. I’m hoping that Kevin can keep this talented newcomer training hard enough to fulfill his potential. Congratulations, Anthony!

The Men’s Winners L-R: Anthony Pomponio 1st, Phillip Wilhelm 2nd, Chris Gute 3rd. Marta Takano photo

Second place was won by Philip Wilhelm, a junior from Iron Man Weightlifting in San Juan Capistrano. His lifts of 115 and 142 gave him a total of 257 for 75.04% of the American junior total record in the 77 kg class and the $500.00 second place prize. Chris Gute of Team Southern California is a junior coached by Tony Ciarelli. Chris’ lifts of 115 and 146 gave him a total of 261 that was 73.94% of the American junior record in the 85 kg class and worth $300.00. Great efforts, guys!

The Women

The women lifted on the second day and once again the heavy favorite failed to make a total and thus had to forfeit the first place award. Maegan-Lee Snodgrass made the trip from Utah intent on taking first and looked good in leading the competition with an 88 kg snatch. The Praxis lifter then selected 95 kg for a first in the clean & jerk and failed! Two more attempts proved to be unsuccessful as well. After the competition, John Garhammer calculated that an 89 kg lift would have taken first for Maegan.

This left the door open for Lindsey Valenzuela of PHAT Elvis in the 69 kg class. She went 5 for 6 and hit PR’s of 79 snatch and 97 clean & jerk for an 11 kg PR total of 176 that provided a winning percentage of 79.28% of the American record. I’ve only been coaching Lindsey for about two months, but she is possessed of a lot of talent and lifted very well in taking the $1,000.00 top prize. Second place and $500.00 went to former national champion Leslie Musser, also of PHAT Elvis and coached by Dr. John Garhammer, who was lifting in the 58 kg class.

1st place winner Lindsey Valenzuela prepares for her first snatch attempt. Marta Takano photo

Her lifts of 70 and 88 gave her a 158 total for 79.00% of the American record and the $500.00 check for 2nd place. 3rd place went to another former national champion, Stacy Suyama who is coached by Ken Vick. Her lifts of 68 and 80 gave her a total of 148 and 76.68% of the American total record in the 53 kg class. Great lifting, ladies.

One of the most promising athletes in the competition was Kenzi Brush of Team Southern California. She is a three time national age group champion and at 13 years of age was competing here against the national junior record. Her 61.87% rating was exceptional and outdistanced two of the more veteran competitors. Very good, Kenzi! We know you’ll be even better with one more year of training for the 2012 event!

The Results


Rank Name Bdwt Class Snatch C & J Total 100% Rating
1 Valenzuela, Lindsey 68.56 69 79 97 176 222.0 79.28
2 Musser, Leslie 57.27 58 70 88 158 200.0 79.00
3 Suyama, Stacey 51.00 53 68 80 148 193.0 76.68
4 Vargas, Emmy 90.04 75+ 87 110 197 287.0 68.64
5 Aguila, Veronica 60.21 63 63 82 145 215.0 67.44
6 Yu, Ruth 61.95 63 57 82 139 215.0 64.65
7 Brush, Kenzi 57.65 58 53 63 116 187.0 61.87
8 Formaneck, Gillian 55.87 58 48 63 111 200.0 55.50
9 Redcher-Bowling, Kathy 75.53 75+ 65 80 145 287.0 50.50
9 Snodgrass, Maegan-Lee 68.96 69 88 0 0 222.0 0.00



Rank Name Bdwt Class Snatch C & J Total 100% Rating
1 Pomponio, Anthony 83.49 85 121 151 272 362.0 74.14
2 Wilhelm, Phillip 76.95 77 115 142 257 342.5 75.04
3 Gute, Chris 83.49 85 115 146 261 353.0 73.94
4 Moreno, Rogelio 141.00 105+ 110 150 260 365.0 71.23
5 Truong, Phillip 82.01 85 100 115 245 362.0 67.68
6 Emery, Tyler 92.00 94 106 137 243 367.5 66.12
7 Vong, Anthony 76.03 77 85 120 205 342.5 59.85
7 Thackery, Tim 68.58 69 0 110 0 293.0 0.00
7 Moorman, Spencer 118.76 105+ 0 185 0 365.0 0.00



Erin Ferries of Creation Entertainment, the organizers of the Fit Expo, stopped by to let us know that they were very pleased with the weightlifting event and considered us the best organized of the 14 events that were taking place over the weekend. Next year’s event is being planned for the South Hall of the L.A. Convention Center which will have 50% more floor space.

I could roughly estimate that the weekend attendance for the Expo was in excess of 80,000, and that meant that a lot of people got a chance to see a great weightlifting event. People were vacating the Strongman competition across the aisle to come over and watch our lifters, as did many people who were at the adjoining Crossfit Kids booth. The organizers are planning on having us repeat the event in an even more elaborate fashion.

I have to thank my fellow meet directors, Dan McDermott and Pat Cullen-Carroll for doing so much to get this event off the ground. I also have to thank the dozens of volunteers who gave up their weekend and Friday morning to put the actual nuts and bolts together.

Erin Ferries, Jane Haber, Mark Missiorek and John Balik (Iron Man Magazine), did an outstanding job integrating our event into the Fitness Expo, and providing us with all the services necessary to pull this event off. Thank you so much!

Finally I have to put in a special thanks to Dr. Brendan Murray, the head of USA Weightlifting’s Sports Medicine Committee, who provided us with emergency medical assistance should it have been necessary. I think the worst he had to deal with all weekend was a torn callus, but it was a relief to know he was there. This was especially true after I found out that the Powerlifting competition had two injuries that required the EMT’s to come in. One of them was a compound fracture, and they had no medical personnel on hand. Thank you, Brendan. You made us look like a first class operation!


2008 Olympic Games 56 kg silver medalist Hoang Ahn Tuan has been suspended for two years from international competition for testing positive for a banned substance at the 2010 World Championships. The name of the substance was not disclosed. Tuan is only the second medalist in the history of Vietnamese sport.

Indian weightlifting coach Ramesh Kumar Malhotra has been exonerated of sexual harassment charges that accused him of harassing some of his athletes. The charges were originally brought by Olympic bronze medalist Karnam Malleswari. Malhotra is now free to reassume his coaching duties.

In spite of the suspension that was imposed on the Indian Weightlifting Federation by the International Weightlifting Federation, Indian athletes continue to register doping positives. Five weightlifters at the National Youth Championships were found positive for banned substances, four of them anabolic steroids. This is on top of the eight lifters who tested positive at the all India Railway Championship in December. All testing was conducted by India’s own National Anti-Doping Agency.


Grant Gardis is a weightlifting coach and strength and conditioning coach at Center Grove Middle Schools. In a recent blog he spoke about how in the past he had neglected to remediate weaknesses early in the careers of some of his lifters, and that that omission affected their long term development. He is now revising his approach and being more patient about developing his weightlifters.

This is great advice, and it is obvious that many coaches haven’t figured this out. This shows up in their lifters’ performances which are often just short of ugly, or slow, or definitely uncoordinated.

Whenever I start a lifter, the first several months are spent in what I call balancing the lifter. This means remediating the weak points, so that the body develops in a balanced manner for weightlifting.

Thanks, Grant, for pointing this out. There are so many newcomer coaches out there that need to hear this kind of advice.


Snatch Clinic with Melanie Roach: February 19th at the Thrush Sports Performance Center in Auburn, WA. $100.00 per person. Sign up at This may be one of those rare opportunities to be coached by an Olympian and former world record holder.

USAW Level 1 Clinic in San Francisco: Jim Schmitz, the subject of one of my recent interviews, will be the lead instructor at the USAW Level 1 course being conducted in San Francisco on February 12 and 13. [ Sign up here ]

Weekend with Ivan Abadjiev: February 5th and 6th. This may be one of the last chances you’ll have to hear the wisdom of legendary Bulgarian weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev. I think it’s very important for your personal development to witness the icons in your field doing what they do best. I’ve been fortunate to hear a lecture from Mr. Abadjiev and to watch him coach the Bulgarian team. Furthermore I was able to hear Stephan J. Gould lecture on evolution, watch David Rigert lift weights and witness Frank Zappa play guitar solos. [ Sign up for this clinic here ]

Olympic Trials will be a stand alone event. The Olympic Trials for Weightlifting will be a stand alone event as the original bid to combine it with the Wrestling Trials was scheduled for a date that conflicted with the Pan American Weightlifting Championships. No information yet on the revised bid process, but anyone interested should regularly check the USAW website.


I will be instructing a USAW Level 1 Clinic at Crossfit Fast in Westlake, CA on the weekend of April 23-24. It should be a great time as owner Terry Hudson is a big Olympic lifting enthusiast. [ Sign up at the USAW website ]

The PHAT Elvis Weightlifting Club will be competing at the St. Patty’s Day Meet in Whittier on Saturday, March 12, 2011. See everybody there. Details at the USAW site or the event calendar at [ ]

Tracy Fober of Iron Maven has posted a blog that encourages her reader to check out the interviews at the Takano Athletic website. Thanks, Tracy. The interviews with Harvey Newton, Dr. John Garhammer, Dr. Brendan Murray, Mike Burgener and others are available for free download. They provide a wealth of knowledge presented by some of the best minds in the weightlifting and strength and conditioning field. [ Check them out at here ]

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