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Iron Athlete Norik Vanardian reflects on his time competing at the Pan American Games weightlifting competition

Pan American Games Reflection: Norik Vardanian

This was your first time representing America in an international meet since you competed in the 2009 Pan American Games. Can you talk a little bit about how you might have changed since then, or how the experience differed overall?

Since then, I have gained a lot more experience. I don’t get nervous like I used to at big competitions. The nervousness is still there, but I know how to control it now, and how to not let it affect my performance in a negative way.

Take me through the actual meet. How did your opening lifts go, and what were you thinking and feeling through each subsequent attempt?

The snatch warm-up went very well. I was a bit surprised when I missed my opening attempt at 160kg. I made my second attempt, but even then it still didn’t feel right. The weight felt light, but my movement felt off after my first miss. We then decided to take a 5 kilo jump to 165kg. I missed it behind.

The clean and jerk was opposite of my snatch warm-ups. My clean and jerk warm-ups felt heavier than normal. We opened at 193kg because that was the weight I needed to secure the bronze medal. The weight felt lighter on the platform and I made it. After that, I sat back and waited to see what weight I would need to move into the silver or gold medal positions. I then took 202kg and made it. We then needed 207kg for the gold. I cleaned the weight, but unfortunately missed the jerk.

What elements of your training leading up to this competition do you think were particularly effective?

Doing all of my recovery/rehab activities was key for me. The only time training doesn’t go well for me is when my body is hurting, and my body hurts when I don’t take care of it. The last few months leading up to the Pan American Games, I was very committed to all my recovery and rehab exercises. I was doing recovery and physical therapy at least once a day. The last month I had two sessions a day, every day.

Would you have done anything differently in your preparation?

I would not have lifted heavy as early as I did. I should have built a better base instead of trying to go heavy. Also, I would have rested a bit after the Arnold Classic. Nevertheless I am happy with the outcome. Fifteen years in this sport and I am still learning.

What are you working towards next?

I will be competing at the Senior Nationals. My ultimate goal is Rio next year, so I’ll do whatever I need to do to get there.

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