Editor's note: Part 17 of USA TODAY's Working Out From Home (#WOFH) series focuses on how weightlifters are competing from their own homes. Sign up for Good Sports, our weekly newsletter that will bring you more home workout tips and the best stories of the good throughout the world of sports:
Mallory Garza and Maci Wynn were thousands of miles apart and equally devastated.
Garza, 17, is the reigning national youth champion (16-17) in the 59-kilogram body weight category. Wynn, 25, has won back-to-back titles in the 81-kg category at the national university level. But dreams of repeating for both took a hit when their local qualifiers were canceled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But luckily for Garza and Wynn, USA Weightlifting began holding online qualifiers — "virtual meets," complete with judges watching.
"USA Weightlifting has just really showed how much they care about our community," Garza said.
Using a timestamp app, lifters stepped on home scales to show their weight. They then set up a camera (usually on their phone) a specified distance away from the lifting platform, at an angle facing the front of the lift.
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Three judges watched each lift. Athletes had a week to submit all attempts at once. Wynn said it didn't feel all that different from a traditional meet, since the organization informed competitors they could retry attempts if they received a "no lift" from the judges.
"It really was an easy process," said Garza, a junior at Cedar Park High School in Texas. "We had to weigh in with our singlet, with that timestamp, and then in a two-hour time window show our snatch and clean-and-jerk lifts."
For Wynn, a Salt Lake City native, her club teams watched her lift off-camera because Utah had not yet enacted stay-at-home orders, allowing her to simulate the meet experience. Both Wynn and Garza said they hoped virtual meets — the 2020 Virtual Super Championships will take submissions from May 15-17 — increases weightlifting's visibility and brings more athletes to the sport.
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First 91kg (200lbs) since nationals! Not bad for not being able to breathe today ?. #ao3 #snowcones
A post shared by Mallory Faith Garza (@malloryygarza) on
Of course, athletes must train for such events, which can prove difficult without access to gyms and weightlifting equipment that isn't all that portable.
Wynn still has access to her team’s gym since it is privately owned, but they are only allowed to train one at a time and must sanitize all equipment once done.
“We’ve also been able to incorporate more outside activities, like sprinting and body weight movements that are overall beneficial for any sport," Wynn said. "We’re not trying to push any max lifts, just trying to stay healthy, stay strong, so by the time we can all kind of be together again and train heavy, we’ll be ready.”
Other types of training Wynn and her team have done, in addition to the sprints, are programmed hikes (using the elevation in Utah to their advantage), pushups, handstands and plenty of stretching — all exercises anyone can do from the comfort of their home.
"It’s been fun to see what we’ve managed to do without what we’re used to," she said.
Garza also experienced some good fortune. In addition to having a barbell at her mother's house, she also has a platform, and purchased online a $20 pull-up bar that fits in a door frame. Garza rented weights from her gym, which can be a useful resource during this time even if it's not open.
"I think that’s a really smart way," said Garza, who also recommended resistance bands and going online to look up workouts posted by USA Weightlifting for those who are interested.
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