American Open this weekend! Pan American qualifier?...

Here it is at last, the final big meet of 2010. The first meet in the 2011 Pan American Championships qualifying period. 21 lifters are in my weight class including several with totals listed between 270kg and 293kg. Since I am coming off my groin injury, I am being told to just focus on making all my lifts and not bother worrying about a medal. But while I am not yet pain-free, I have already pushed the lifts to near max levels without undue stress on the area. I believe I have a legitimate bid for first place.

Even though I'm shooting for gold, my real goal already makes this a bit of a letdown. I really wanted to go for 300kg this year and a berth in Pan Ams, but with all the missed training there is practically zero chance that I will attempt such numbers this meet. The good news is that there are two more meets over the next several months at which I can qualify. The bad news is that USAW is taking only six men and five women instead of a full team of eight and seven.

The qualification system is a bit awkward; athletes are ranked based on estimated placing. In a sort of "meet simulation," the total for each place (1st-18th) for each weight class has been estimated. Your estimated placing is that of the highest total you meet or exceed. For example, in 77kg 1st place is estimated at 337kg, 2nd at 333kg, 3rd at 322kg, 4th at 320kg, 5th at 302kg, and so on. If I total 302, that puts me at 5th place. As long as I place higher than all but five other athletes, I make the team. If multiple athletes have the same placing, they are ranked based on how much they have exceeded that placing's total (or their percentage of the first place total... USAW hasn't exactly been clear on that).

Last year I would have needed a 5th place rank and several kg over to make the top eight, 317kg minimum. This year if the same guys return I will likely need a placing of 4th, which is a huge jump to 320kg. I think 135kg/165kg is reasonable when I get back to full health, and maybe with more training in between I can do 140kg/170kg by the end of the qualifying period. But something crazy or unexpected will have to happen for me to make this team, such as allowing the full team to go (wouldn't surprise me, even if the extra athletes have to pay their own way).

The silver lining in all this? It looks like it's going to be easier to make the world team than the Pan American team. I would certainly take that!

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