Intensity of weightlifting has strong hold on Lessard

March 29, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

Francis Scott Key junior Steve Lessard tries to explain what weightlifting is all about.

Dedication, strength, speed, technique, mind set and time -- a lot of time.

"You just can't learn to do lifts overnight. It takes a lot of repetitions," he said.

"Some people just don't understand the intensity of the sport and how much it takes. It's really hard to explain."

Lessard began lifting his freshman year under the guidance of coach Leo Totten, who has run the Iron Eagles Weightlifting Club for close to 10 years at Key.

The membership of 15 this year is about the norm for the past few years. Totten said the club began to blossom about five years ago.

"We have guys who graduated who are still competing. You learn a lot of discipline from weightlifting, which carries over into other aspects of life," Totten said.

"Self-esteem, discipline and setting goals are all things we talk about and work on."

Some lift to help them prepare for other sports, others do it for enjoyment, and still others, like Lessard, are looking to take it to another level.

Lessard, Chris Higgins and Sam Clinger all competed in the 1994 National Junior Weightlifting Championships in St. Joseph, Mo., earlier this month.

They competed in Olympic-style lifting (snatch, clean and jerk), which are the two overhead lifts used in the Olympics.

Lessard took third in his weight class (59 kilograms or 130 pounds). Clinger (79 kilograms) placed third and Higgins (50 kilograms) was fourth.

"Speed and technique really sets it apart. All three of those guys had a good head start. They had the strength and athleticism, a good base to start with," Totten said.

"We try to work on speed and power as well as perfecting the technique. It's a rigid schedule. They work at it usually five days a week -- sometimes before school, after school and even more stuff at home. It can't be a hit-or-miss thing where you lift just two days a week."

Lessard also qualified for the Senior Nationals, scheduled for the last weekend of April. It's an open tournament and he'll be going up against some of the top weightlifters in the world.

"I'll be lifting against guys I never thought I'd get to just watch and now I'm going up against them," he said.

"There will be a lot of competition. A lot depends on who shows up and who has the good day and who has the bad day. I'm just going to go out and do the best I can -- that's all you can ask for."

From there, Lessard will head to Colorado Springs, Colo., this summer to the Olympic Training Center. The three-week training program is for potential Olympians.

"It's very intense," Lessard said, who first went to the program last year. "It's a whole lot of heavy lifting, and they push you to be the best you can be."

Lessard holds six state records and is nationally ranked in his weight class. Lessard's ultimate goal is to make it to the 2000 Olympic Games. His top lifts have been 192 pounds in the snatch and 245 pounds in the clean and jerk.

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