My Bittersweet 2016 WPC Worlds

TAGS: hematoma, muscle tear, rope rescue training, 2016 WPC Worlds, 1000 pound squat, Ken Whetham, meet performance, WPC World Championships

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Isn’t life awesome? Lots of highs and lots of lows. It would be pretty damn boring if it were predictable and mind-numbing day after day, week after week, wouldn’t it? One day you can have the best day of your life and the next day could be your worst. This week included both for me.

The last twelve weeks I have been preparing to compete at the WPC World Championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’ve had probably the best training cycle I’ve ever had. Everything was moving fast and easy and I was confident I was going to hit my first 1000-pound squat at this meet. I did my last heavy squat (my opener) three weeks out and was planning on opening with 905.


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If you didn’t know already, I work in the Fire Department in Suppression and also as a Rescue Tech, which includes high angle rope rescue, confined space, and trench rescue. Last week we were in our training tower at work doing some rope rescue training and were practicing line transfers, which means partially rappelling down the training tower and switching to another independent rope. I had switched my equipment to the secondary line and needed to unload a prusik rope to transfer my weight to a bar rack in order to continue rappelling down the tower. My prusik rope got cinched onto the main rope and after several attempts to unlock it, I had to cut the rope. I fell about four feet before being caught in my harness. Not a big deal, shit happens and I never thought anything of it at the time.

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About seven days later my right leg started swelling up and some really black, amazing bruises started showing up. I went to the clinic and was examined by the on-call physician who was very impressed with the coloration of my leg but thought everything was okay. I had to argue with the doc to get an ultrasound because I wanted to make sure everything was okay; I was only ten days out from worlds. I went for an ultrasound and the tech called the doctor in to view the screen. “You won’t be lifting for a while, my friend.” I was told I had a 15-centimeter muscle tear along my quad. Fantastic!

If you think you’re going to lift heavy, compete, and escape the injury demons, you’re pretty naïve. The most disappointing thing for me was that I didn’t get injured lifting — I got injured at work. What’s that old saying? Shit happens!

No sense complaining because nobody likes a “poor me” attitude, so I sucked it up and wanted to make the best of it and go to worlds to support my wife Sheri, who was competing, and the rest of Team Canada.

This year WPC Worlds was being held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was really cool because we’d never been to that area of the United States before. The event was held at the Crowne Plaza hotel. It was a great venue with two platforms and an awesome warm-up room with four monolifts and competition benches.

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Sheri lifted Monday in full power in the master’s class. Her goal was to hit a 1000-pound total, which was pretty significant since she just recovered from shoulder surgery this past year. Sheri went 7/9 and squatted 380 pounds, benched 187 pounds, and deadlifted 435 pounds, for a 1002-pound total. Mission accomplished: four new WPC world records, first place in her division, and best lifter award. Day one in the books!

We spent the majority of the week helping other Canadian lifters, with the exception of Thursday. We decided to rent a car and take a drive to New Orleans with a couple of our friends from Canada. We went to the French Quarter and wandered around looking at the amazing architecture and old buildings. We even ventured into a Voodoo shop but were out quick enough that no witch doctor could cast a spell or place a curse on us.

Sheri also lifted in the deadlift-only open class on Saturday. She hit her 407-pound opener but didn’t get her 430-pound second or 440-pound third. Judging was tough on Saturday. Her opener was enough to win gold in the open class, which isn’t too bad for a 54-year-old. (Can I tell everyone you’re 54, Sheri?)

We were heading home Sunday but got a chance to watch Dave Hoff smoke his 1060-pound opener and 1107-pound second attempt like it was two plates. Hoff’s bench opener was 965 pounds and he couldn’t touch so he went up to 985 on his second. No luck. Dave tried a 1014-pound bench on his third and almost locked it out but it got away from him near lockout. Imagine trying to hold 1014 pounds in your hands on a bench!

We went to the airport to head home and found out that the airline had canceled Sheri’s return ticket because she had to take an earlier flight down for weigh-ins after we found out she was lifting on Monday instead of Tuesday. It took over an hour to get it sorted out but in the end, everything worked out and we made it home at 3:00 AM Monday.

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This WPC Worlds didn’t turn out as expected for myself. It’s a bitter pill to swallow to limp around for most of the week watching everyone else lift, hit new PRs, and bring home the hardware. But as always, we met a ton of great people in the powerlifting community and ran into a lot of friends we’ve met during our powerlifting travels, so I’d still have to rate the week 8/10.

The great news is that I got a call from the doc and my quad isn’t torn; it was a deep hematoma, which means it will be easier and quicker to heal. I’m hopeful and confident that I’ll be able to start another training cycle in December for the Arnold in March.

Forest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get”, which is a lot better than a box of hand grenades. You can’t eat hand grenades!

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