The Pan-American Youth Weightlifting Championships and the Wonder of Youth Itself

The Pan-American Youth Weightlifting Championships are taking place from May 24th to June 2nd in Toronto, Canada. This year’s championships will feature over 300 athletes competing in 12 different sports. This is the largest youth weightlifting event in North America and it is being held at the same time as the Pan American Games which are being hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In addition to all these competitions there are other activities going on throughout the week including:

• A panel discussion with world class coaches, athletes and experts on youth weightlifting. Panelists include John Kavanagh (Canada), Steve Maxwell (USA) and Peter Schilling (United States).

• An exhibition match between Canada and USA where both teams will compete against each other in their respective sports.

• A children’s zone featuring games, crafts, activities and entertainment.

This year’s Pan-American Youth Weightlifting Championships is sponsored by the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Pan Am Sports Association and the Ontario Ministry of Sport. There are two divisions in this competition: Junior Division and Senior Division.

The Junior Division has athletes between the ages of 12 and 17. The Senior Division has athletes between the ages of 15 and 20. The competition is split into weight classes so that athletes compete against others that are in the same weight class.

The first place winners in each division will be awarded gold medals, the second place winners will receive silver medals and the third place winners will receive bronze medals.

The Wonder of Youth Itself

Youth is a remarkable thing. It is a time of excitement and discovery.

It is the time when we first learn about the world around us and our place in it. We learn from our experiences and we mature as people. These things shape who we are and how others see us. In youth we are optimistic and see opportunity around every corner, but at times we can also be impatient. This is part of the human experience.

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As the years pass many of us gradually take on a more serious demeanor. Some of us never grow out of this phase, but others learn to let go and enjoy life as it comes at them.

This does not mean we cannot take our responsibilities seriously, but rather that we do not have to be so solemn about everything all the time. With this in mind we can see that youth can be a wonderful gift even if it does not last forever.

Weightlifting is beginning to experience something of a youth movement. The days when veteran lifters dominated the sport are slowly starting to fade into memory.

Now it seems that more and more young athletes are taking up the sport. While this can be attributed in part to better coaching and training techniques, it is also due in some part to the desire of these young athletes to achieve greatness while their bodies are still young and strong.

Greatness, in any endeavor, requires a strong mind as well as a strong body. Weightlifting is no exception to this rule.

It is easy for those of us who have never been on the platform to look at these young athletes and assume that they are courageous and bold. However we cannot know their hearts and minds unless we were inside of them. Perhaps some are indeed courageous, but perhaps others are merely naive.

The Courage to Dream

The path to any goal is always paved with obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are easy enough to get past that we can easily overcome them.

At other times these obstacles can be so difficult or even impossible to get past. It is this second kind that stops most people from achieving their dreams. They become convinced that the obstacle is insurmountable and thus they do not even try to overcome it.

It is this sort of thinking that allows mediocrity to thrive. Sadly, this is what most people settle for.

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They are unwilling to sacrifice and pay the price in order to achieve their goals. Even more sadly, some who MIGHT have been great, give in to this temptation early in life and thus never achieve anything close to their full potential.

There will always be those who are great and those who are not so great. This is part of the natural order of things.

There are no shortcuts. One cannot take a pill to make themselves great, at least not yet. Even the best training, the best coaches and the best facilities do not guarantee greatness. This world favors no man. All it takes is one weak link to bring down the best of intentions.

In weightlifting this weak link is the back and more specifically, the spinal erectors. This is not to say that the other muscles of the body do not play a part, but it is the spinal erectors that act as the foundation of it all.

This muscle group must be strong enough to support not only the weight of the bar, but also the rest of your body as you attempt to lift the weight. If this foundation is weak, then one can be sure that everything built upon it will also be weak.

How does one build such a foundation?

Well this is where coaching and good training techniques come into play, but even with the best of these a lifter still needs to have the right mind set in order to achieve results. This is where our young athletes can fall victim to the temptation of settling for mediocrity.

The lifter must believe that they can achieve. More than that, they must be belief that they WILL achieve.

If they don’t believe in themselves, then no one else will either. This is the number one problem with those who do not achieve and the cause of it all is a weak mind. It is a tragedy when one has such a gift and wastes it due to this flaw.

Those with strong minds will always overcome those with weaker minds every time.

Does this mean that the physically weaker should be given up on?

Of course not, but it does mean that they must have a stronger will than those who were born stronger than them. Some may call this unfair, but life is often unfair.

The good side to this is that the greatest achievements can be accomplished by those with weak beginnings IF they have a strong enough mind. I’ve seen it happen time and time again even with those who have come to me at a young age.

They may have been weak, but I’ve turned them into strong men.

This is the reason why I’ve come to be known as the “Maker of Champions”.

Yes, you will become a champion of some sort if you follow my training. It may not be Olympic gold or even state championship, but you will be great in your own way because you WILL NOT settle for mediocrity.

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Yes, you will be making sacrifices in your life, but I assure you that the rewards will be more than worth it.

The choice is yours of course. You may leave this place and return to whatever it is that you were doing before or you may enter the gates of the CHAMBER OF TORTURE AND TRIUMPH!

To enter you must agree to three things:

1. To never reveal what goes on here.

2. To never fail to follow instructions and 3.

To submit yourself to the will of another, me in this case.

Do you agree?

type Y or N

If you chose “N”, then you leave with a feeling of foreboding that you will never be what you could have been. You may try again at a later time, but the results will always be the same.

If you chose “Y” then the choice is still yours, but know this:

The Pan-American Youth Weightlifting Championships and the Wonder of Youth Itself - Image

Once you enter the gates of the CHAMBER OF TORTURE AND TRIUMPH!, you may never leave.

type Y or N

“Yes”, you think to yourself, “I want what all others who have come here before have achieved. I want to be great even if I must be a slave.” So without further hesitation you press “Y”.

The screen now reads…

Do you obey without question?

type Y or N

If you press “N”, then you are expelled from the chamber and everything is as it was before. If you press “Y” however, then the gates of the chamber open and you are now a resident of this place for better or worse.

You have no doubt that it will be the better for you.

You follow the instructions of those around you until you are taken to your assigned place where you will sleep and eat at designated times.

You are handed a pair of short leather boots, a loose fitting shirt, cotton breeches, and a light weight jacket. Everything is black except for the boots which are a dark brown.

The material is obviously very plain, but it is the best available.

You then realize that everything from your old life has been taken away from you, including your name. From now on you will be known as a “Cadet” and it would be wise if you started thinking of yourself as such.

The next week is taken up with learning how to care for the new clothes you were given and how to keep your living area clean. The second week is taken up with learning the art of fighting.

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You are paired up with another boy about your size and the two of you practice fighting with each other. At first you try to be gentle with each other, but that isn’t what the instructor is watching.

He wants to make sure you can fight even if it means really hurting your partner so eventually you do as you are told.

The next week is spent learning to use a sword. The sword is a heavy blunted instrument, but you are expected to maneuver it as if it were sharp.

The weight and the unnatural feel of the weapon are enough to cause most people to fail, but by this time your body has become accustomed to moving in ways it was not meant to move so you manage to pass this portion of your training as well.

Sources & references used in this article:

Bob Hoffman, the York Barbell Company, and the golden age of American weightlifting, 1945-1960 by JD Fair – Journal of Sport history, 1987 – JSTOR

Anabolic steroids: the gremlins of sport by T Todd – Journal of sport history, 1987 – JSTOR

Strongmen of the Crescent City: Weightlifting at the New Orleans Athletic Club, 1872-1972 by JD Fair – Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana …, 2004 – JSTOR

Gender in televised sports: News and highlights shows, 1989-2004 by MC Duncan, MA Messner, N Willms… – Los Angeles: Amateur …, 2005 –

Developing Elite Athletes: A Content Analysis of US National Governing Body Systems. by DK Stotlar, A Wonders – International journal of applied …, 2006 –

The new encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding by A Schwarzenegger, B Dobbins – 1998 –

Anabolic steroid and stimulant use in North American sport between 1850 and 1980 by CE Yesalis, MS Bahrke – Sport in History, 2005 – Taylor & Francis