I like put my foot down. I was like hey i’m, not i’m, not lifting. Until i get an x ray and like they x, rayed, it and they’re, like oh yeah, there’s break right here right here and what did the coach feel bad uh? I mean i feel for him now that i have a little more life experience and like at the time hated the guy um, but now that i know the situation he was in, he was under pressure for keeping his job to like hey. You need to produce athletes like none of the american athletes are doing well on the world world scene, but it’s like usa, is one of the very few countries that competes clean and so it’s like. How do you compete? You know yeah, so he had this outside pressure of to like produce an athlete whether it was the right way or wrong way, isn’t that up that statement that you just said, but i know it to be true when you said the usa is one of the Few countries that competes clean, that’s, it’s, actually true, oh it’s and so strange. I remember the junior worlds that i competed that the winning guy in my weight class snatched more than what i cleaned a jerked like this, like 18 year old kid, and he like power. Snatched 155 kilos was where is it from? I want to say he was like somewhere over in europe and i’m, pretty sure it was like the whole podium got popped, it’s kind of, like i remember like the 2008 olympics, like the 94 kilo class, they started testing down and it’s like currently it’s.

Like ninth place, guy has the bronze medal because they just kept twisting down down down so did they pop them right after the competition or they pop them. I think it’s, like a few years later, because it’s like at the time with the drug they don’t know how to test for right, and so they save the samples and then years later they figure out how to ask for this stuff. Did you see icarus? I i watched like the first bit of it: uh yeah i haven’t seen the whole thing yet: it’s nuts yeah it’s nuts. I mean it’s just crazy, like if there’s a sport with money test for us and figure out like all right. If this comes up, how do we deal with it? How did you get involved? What was did you just walk into a class one day and yeah, so i have a background in olympic weightlifting did that for 10 years lived at the olympic training center? Like my goal was to go to the olympics for weightlifting and then that didn’t pan out and like started focusing on school and then i just kind of i guess, just gained the freshman 15.. So i was like all right either need to start working out again or change my diet. So i was like ah i’ll start working out and uh. You know trying to find an olympic weightlifting gym. Is there like a needle in a haystack but crossfits are everywhere, and so i just like googled crossfit near me, because they they use all the same equipment like the barbells and bumpers, and so i just showed up introduced myself.

I was like hey like i don’t want to do your crossfit thing, i’ll be in the back room, just doing cleaning jerks and squats and uh just kept doing that kind of showing up on a irregular basis, and then one of the girls from the gym. Who was a competitor was just kind of like bribing me into workouts every once in a while, like oh, you might be good at this one. Give this one a try, give this one a try and the uh, the owner of the gym, actually signed me up for my first competition because he’s, okay, i think you have potential in this. You should give this a try and uh. So we made a deal that he signed me and paid my entry fee and then, if i won any money he i had to buy a pair of crossfit shoes. What are crossfit shoes? I mean at the time it was like the reeboks like the minimalist shoes like i was working out in air max 90s and so he’s like anything’s better than that, and what year was this. This would be back in like 2012 and uh so anyways. I i won the competition, got a couple hundred bucks and was like yo. This is kind of cool like just pocket money for a college. Kid like: are there more competitions like this, and so they showed me where to find these competitions, and i just kind of started driving around the northeast like all of new england, and if there was prize money at a competition i was signing up, and so i Basically, looked at it like a part time job of like while i’m in school, full time and broke, i can make some pocket money and yeah just kind of.

I was like all right. If i want to keep winning these competitions, i need to work on my weaknesses, get better and then just kind of fell in love with it, and it just ratcheted up bit by bit until, like i’m at the world championships and i’m like oh, how did that Get here and then you won over and over and over again, which is crazy, it’s a weird start man to something that you not just excelled at. I mean, i think, you’re the winningest guy ever right. Yeah i’ve won one the been on the podium seven times and i’ve won at the last five years. That’S bananas yeah, i mean for someone who started off as like mark yeah i’m, not blind to it. Like i’ll be sitting with my fiance, like you know, just when these cool opportunities get plopped in front of me and i’m like how? How did i end up here like this wasn’t supposed to be my life? You know i was a mechanical engineer. You know, like i thought my sports career was over with olympic weightlifting. You know i broke my back like it was a whole. What did you do to your back? I broke my l5 in two spots: oh yeah, how uh just training too heavy too often and uh it just fractured the actual bone, yeah yeah like the little wings off the side. It was on two separate occasions too. They were like a week or two apart from each other and so wait hold on you broke one, and then you kept lifting yeah.

I didn’t really have a choice, so i was living at the olympic training center and like there was a lot of pressure on the program to like produce, and i was on the junior world team. I was leaving for romania in a couple weeks to compete and uh yeah. Just i don’t know i wasn’t training as smart as i should have been, and so the first one when i was doing like a clean pull so just like a dead lift with a big explosion at the top and like loud pop on one side and i Dropped the bar and like it have you ever seen those heat packs that have the little clicky thing in them. It was that’s what it felt like when it like clicked and then it’s, just like the inflammation just spreading and uh, and so you know go to my room lay down for a couple days and then you know it was. It was oh, i knew something was wrong. Like i’ve, never had an injury like that, you know i couldn’t move. Did you get an x ray? Did you get an mri? No because it was like i was leaving for the competition in like two weeks, so it was like too late to call the alternate. So i don’t know so you wait. Do they know that you’re this injured? I mean, i told them like hey. I and they’re like suck it up, i’m injured and i was told, like hey that’s, the difference between pain and injury, and i was like okay, uh i’ll get back to lifting, and so then a couple days goes by and i’m being super cautious, like basically stripped All the weight on my training, i’m just moving and then uh what was it was heavy back squat and like load up and you’re going for like a new one, rep max like a week before you get on the airplane and uh yeah hit the bottom of The hole left side goes, oh jeez and so anyways i got went to the competition did terribly.

You know like the coach was like hey what’s, your goal for this competition. I was like i just don’t want to bomb out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stu-1jImuuQ