Before we start, I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read my last article and to those who commented. I am thrilled that it reached so many readers.

Do you have a meet scheduled in the near future? Is it be held? If it is being held, are you going? In these crazy, unpredictable, and unprecedented times, that is the question. Nothing that I say henceforth is meant to be political. It is my perception of what is happening. Without a set of guidelines from the federal government, it seems that the states and large cities are making their own guidelines and judgments. Without universal testing, I guess we have to assume we are all at risk. Some states have closed schools and universities, restaurants and bars, and a number of places where people can gather, including our precious gyms. Many people are acting crazy at both ends of the spectrum. Some are in an absolute panic, purchasing food and other goods at an alarming rate and isolating themselves from the rest of the world as they can. Others seem to ignore the threat of this virus and all medical expert advice. It is neither a myth, a hoax, or a conspiracy, nor is it the end of the world. We have heretofore survived worse. We need not panic nor be cavalier. I don’t claim to be the voice of reason. I can only say what I have done and am doing.

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The IPA, one of my favorite federations, held the Tennessee State Championships in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on March 14th. When this article is published, the situation will be very different, and I can see the wisdom or lack thereof of my actions. I had trained very hard for this meet with occasional bumps in the road caused by life. When I decided to go to this meet, the virus was not yet a thing. By March 14th, while a thing, it did not seem life-threatening as schools, restaurants, movies, and the like had not been shut down. The town of Gatlinburg, a tourist area, was crowded. The restaurants were full, and there was no place to park. There were few, if any, cases in western NC or eastern TN, and there was no panic among the population.


The meet was well attended. I don’t know if anyone registered for the meet did not attend. There were three full flights, and as usual, several bench-only lifters. As too often has recently been the case, I did not do all I planned to do. I planned only to take 6 or 7 attempts (three in the squat if necessary). I did not stick to that plan. I have found that it is useless to take a third attempt in the bench if I miss my second attempt. The same applies to the deadlift. I am tired and frustrated and spending unnecessary energy. A suggestion to help me adhere to that plan was to wave my second attempt in the bench and deadlift and take my third. That would preserve energy and create a sense of energy. It is good advice, and I hope I have the courage to implement it at my next meet. On my second attempt in each lift, I attempted a world record. I failed on all of them. However, my squat was only an inch or so high, and my bench was within a hair of lockout as was my deadlift. I almost had a great meet, is one way to look at it. I, however, was disappointed, particularly in my squat. Those that did have a great meet were my dear friends from Nebo Barbell. They won every division they entered. One of their lifters who often wins best female geared lifter hit a bump in the road. To show the depth of talent at Nebo, another of their lifters stepped up, nailed her attempts, and won best female geared lifter. She also got an open elite total and a pro total. WOW! Their men are just as talented. Their lifter, who often wins best lifter did not participate. Again, another of their outstanding men stepped up and won best male geared lifter. All of this enormous success is directly attributable to Nebo’s leadership in the person of Joey Smith, who himself is one of the country’s best lifters. More so than talented lifters, is the attitude and selflessness of their team. The entire team was there to help, encourage, and wrap their teammates. I have never seen such a show of solidarity and camaraderie. I am also grateful to those Nebo members who helped and wrapped and encouraged me. That’s enough of a plug for Nebo. They’ll get a big head if I go on.

I have, in previous articles, advocated for an EMT to be present at powerlifting meets. So far, it has not been done in the federations in which I participate. At this meet, a young man was attempting a geared bench press of 500 pounds. Just after hand-off and as he began his descent, the bone or bones in his forearm snapped. It was so sudden that the weight fell on him despite the best efforts of the spotters. His shirt had to be cut from his arm, and his arm was stabilized with a knee wrap. To the credit of the town of Gatlinburg, an EMT team was extraordinarily prompt and stretchered him away quickly. I trust he will be okay though his injury was quite serious. Bobby Betts, as usual, together with his excellent team, put together an outstanding meet and are to be congratulated.

I have another meet scheduled for May 2nd. It has not yet been canceled. Unless things get better, I do not intend to go. I believe and hope it will be rescheduled when things are safer. We are in very troubled times. We must act with the sense we have, not panic nor ignore the situation. Thankfully, our area has not been hit yet; there are no confirmed cases in our county. We must act with prudence to prevent the spread of the virus. I don’t know where we will be when this article is published. I went to this meet against the advice of loved ones and relatives. As a result, they have asked me to stay away for 14 days. I am not happy, but I’ll adhere to their request. In fact, I may stay away longer. Please, everyone, be safe, and do what you need to do to avoid this virus. Let’s get back on the platform soon.

They say, “Don’t hang out with more than ten people.” Shit, I don’t even like ten people.

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