Thursday, November 29, 2012

Clarence Kennedy

Some video clips of a great Irish weight lifter, Clarence Kennedy. He is also an amazing all around athlete as is evidenced by his acrobatic Parkour demonstration at 1:25 on the interview video. He is an amazing young lifter who seems to be lifting well inside of his potential and who is making steady improvement. His training is simple and direct and reflects how athletes without goverment support compete.

Clarence Kennedy is a quiet, easy-going Tralee teenager. He is also one of the most phenomenal young sportsmen in Ireland. Despite having taken up weightlifting just under 4 years ago, he has taken the sport by storm, won every available Irish medal, shattered Irish records repeatedly, and has recently been ranked as Ireland’s top weightlifter. In 2010 he attended the Cork Open and promptly shattered every U18 record they had. An incredible progression, but then again, Clarence came into the sport with an unusual but very solid foundation.
“I was involved with St. Brendans’ AC when I was younger and I competed in the Celtic Games, but I was also into ‘tricking’, which is a freestyle combination of martial arts and gymnastics. It’s a non-competitive sport that I got great enjoyment from, and I decided to take up weightlifting to give me a bit more flexibility and power for tricking. I actually taught myself weightlifting, which would be unusual in itself, but the tricking meant that I already had developed my physique and also gave me a great sense of spatial awareness, which you need. As time went on, I found that I had to concentrate on one thing if I really wanted to do my best at it. Weightlifting is a hugely rewarding sport, but it’s also very demanding; you have to give it your best.”
“Weightlifting is both simpler and more complex than people think. There are two lifts involved. The ‘snatch’ involves a straight lift from ground to overhead with arms straight. The other is the ‘clean and jerk’, in which you lift the bar to your chest and in a second movement you raise it overhead. The clean and jerk is usually 20% heavier, but it’s the combined total that counts. You have two minutes between lifts in competition as well as a warm-up session. It’s a very tactical sport, you need to watch the time and judge your best weight carefully. The best thing to do is make sure that your first attempt is manageable and then try and increase it for the next two. It’s not just about muscle at all; you need an awful lot of balance, co-ordination, and flexibility. I’d be pleased with my technique really, but that’s something that you just never stop working on.”
“I have heard some crazy myths about weightlifting and I think it puts people off a really challenging and enjoyable sport. One is that you need to be short to do it – that’s just nonsense. People with shorter arms have less distance to lift the bar, that’s all that comes from. Another is that it’ll damage your body – the sport is thousands of years old, would somebody not have noticed? In actual fact, a 1994 survey examined all sports and found weightlifting to be one of the safest. It’s safer than badminton.”
“I do a minimum of one session of just under 4 hours a day and I have recently been pushing that to two sessions a day. I train in the Austin Stacks Gym. We don’t have a formal club or anything, but a bunch of us bought expensive equipment.
“I have a YouTube channel and just last night I have passed 3000 subscribers and 1.3 million views for my videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/clarence0) which is very encouraging as well.”
“The equipment is definitely expensive. Competitive weights have to be rubber-coated plates,  we all contributed money to our equipment it took us quite a long time to get our equipment we have today and we still need more“. You have to be able to throw them off you to the ground if a lift goes wrong and a bar that won’t break under that kind of stress will set you back €700.
“I competed in Mullingar in the Leinster Championships and Open. I lifted 152kg in the snatch (which was 7kg over the Irish Senior record I held previously) I lifted 182kg in the clean and jerk (which was 12kg over the Irish Senior record I held previously). My combined total was 334kg which makes me the highest ranked weightlifter in Ireland ever. Look, that sounds great, but the truth is that I amn’t too bothered about it. No disrespect to all the people putting in work here in Ireland, but the truth is that the international standard is set by eastern Europeans and Asians. Kids start there at 10 years old, most people here take it up in colleges after they have lost a lot of flexibility. We are way behind. To be honest about it, I want to be world class and those are the people I compare myself with.”
My next big step is going over to Poland to meet up with Pawel Nadjek in November. He holds the Clean and jerk record for Poland at 250kg, and is a three-times Olympian and one of the best coaches out there. My big target this year is the Junior European Championships in Israel in December, I’ll really be hoping to rank high or even medal at that. I was competing at the 94kg class in Mullingar and I am hoping to be at 85kg in Israel. I have snatched 155kg and clean and jerked 190kg in training in recent times. I have also squatted 262.5kg at 87kg bodyweight which is triple my own bodyweight.”

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