Most Memorable Moment

The walk from the training area to the gym was nerve reckoning. Illianna felt her nerves rush from her feet to her stomach when she walked down the long hallway to the gym. She had never competed in an Olympic weightlifting competition before and was about to step out to a room full of spectators and judges to watch her lift.

Illianna reached the gymnasium doors at the Jowers Center and looked at her coach, Dylan Wall, before entering the gym. Dylan told her before stepping into the gym, “Illianna, you’re ready, take a big jump and walk out on the platform. You got this.”

There was a curtain behind the platform that separated the eyes of the spectators from the athletes. Each athlete waited for her name to be called and how much weight was going to be on the bar before stepping onto the platform to complete the lift. Illianna was competing at the Iron Cat, a weightlifting competition located in the Jowers Center at Texas State University in San Marcos. The Iron Cat was a USAW­­—sanctioned event that was opened to the public as along as the competitors were registered with USAW. Texas State’s Iron Cat competition happened twice a year where competitors were to perform two Olympic lifts called the snatch and clean and jerk.

Behind the black curtain, Illianna waited for her name to be called. She looked at her coach before stepping on to the platform he said, “Illianna you have this lift, you’re fast, and have already exceeded my expectations, let’s get it.” Illianna’s first lift was a 48-kilogram snatch; she chalked her hands and took a deep breath before stepping on the platform. The gym was silent. The only noises were a few coughs and whispers from the crowd of spectators sitting in chairs in front of the platform.

Illianna stepped to the barbell loaded with 48-kilograms and wrapped her hands around the barbell. She kept the bar close to her body and lifted the barbell with ease. She extended her hips and locked out her arms as the bar went over her head. Illianna’s lift counted as a good lift from the judges, and the silent crowd was now clapping at her completed lift. Illianna continued to excel and completed all her lifts in competition, where she placed third overall and made the podium. Illianna was awarded a bronze medal. Illianna continues to train vigorously eight hours a week to continue her passion for competing in Olympic weightlifting competitions.