We’ve heard from Hira before in an interview for issue one; here she returns after the recent Women’s British Championships to give us some ideas about what it’s like having expectations of yourself ahead of lifting...
Anyone would be lying if they said they did not compete at powerlifting with expectations. There is an expectation of successful lifts, enjoyment, nerves, and that is before you start to think about goals and expectations of fulfilling ambitions. We all spend time (hours and hours) training, improving technique, building strength, mobility work, recovery and nutrition in the expectation of getting better, of achieving bigger and heavier lifts.
The weight of expectation increases as a competition approaches, and proportionally so in response to the level of competition. Different people have varying ways to how they deal with those expectations.
At the end of last year, I had the opportunity to represent GB at Western Europeans. No-one put any pressure on me to perform or to meet any set numbers, however I got caught up in my own pressure and potential outcome, and then when it went wrong on the day, I got upset, proper tears of frustration. And most importantly I did not enjoy the competition. The other GB competitors were awesome and great fun to be with, the coaches were fantastic and super supportive, but I had crumbled under my own expectations.
Coming into the British Classic in March this year, I had a long chat with my coach and set out my personal ground rules, to reduce my feelings of expectations. I did not want to know what we were working towards (I did not know my openers till the day before, and didn’t know any attempts until after they had been submitted), I did not look at the list to see who had entered or what placing I was going into the comp, I actively avoided see any of my potential competitors on social media, and I would not even look at my training programme more than one week at a time. And it worked for me, I turned up on the day just hoping to do the best I could on the day and have a great time.
I did still feel that expectation, but it was not as crushing. There was the normal internal competition worries: will I get my lifts, will I bomb out, will I perform on the day to achieve personal bests and make all of those months of graft in the garage worthwhile. And then there are the external things, my friends who had given their weekend to travelling up and supporting me, my coach with his time and effort (before and during the competition) and my peers hoping/ anticipating big things. You don't want to let anyone down.
But so much of that is out of my control, the work had been done, I actively focused on enjoying myself - I am so thankful for the amazing other women in my weight class who made the day fun and extremely supportive. Yes it still annoyed me when I did not make lifts and failed attempts, though it did make it easier to move on at the time, to be able to distance myself from the expectation and focus on the next task, whether that was getting that next attempt, warming up for the next lift or just celebrating others success.
The best sports people will always be those who can maintain their path and focus under that weight of expectation. It is about acknowledging that expectation and then finding your own personal way of putting it aside or in a box and doing what you need to do.