Taking a look back at the American Open Series and Pan American Championships last month in Miami, Florida there were a number of notable performances across the board. One thing is ABUNDANTLY clear, weightlifting in the United States continues to improve across every weight class and gender.
American Donovan Ford, a veteran in the sport, put together a dominating performance winning the Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Total on his way to gold in the 105kg weight class.
Snatch: 158kg (miss) | 160kg | 166kg
Clean & Jerk: 198kg | 204kg | 210kg (miss)
We had a chance to catch up with Donovan to discuss his American Open performance and his training that led up to the meet.
Donovan, having followed the California Strength program for the past 16 weeks, how was your preparation for the American Open in Miami different than meets that you’ve had in the past?
Following the California Strength program for the last 16 weeks has completely changed the way I view my weightlifting career. I can’t remember the last time I trained for 16 weeks and didn’t miss a day of training due to injury. It’s been years since I have made any technical improvements in my lifts. All those things changed when I started following Cal strength Elite programming. The biggest difference in my preparation for the American Open II was having the ability to train effectively and with a purpose.
What’s it like working with such a dynamic duo in Dave Spitz and Kevin Doherty? (Owner and Head Coach of Hassle Free Barbell Club)
Working with Dave has been an amazing experience. We have always had a great relationship in the sport which made the transition working together easy. Dave is a leader of men and has been a huge inspiration to me. I told Dave I wanted to get better and he has done everything in his power to help me accomplish my goals.
Kevin is just ok... Just kidding. A lot of people don’t know this but I disliked Kevin for several years when I first got into weightlifting. I literally wanted to fight him every time I saw him at a weightlifting meet. He can be a bit of strong personality but now he is probably my most trusted advisor in the sport. There are very few people whose opinion I value in the sport over his. Kevin’s attention to detail in the backroom makes competing easy. He has coached me at every major event the last 8 years and has played a major role in the success I have had in my career.
You Cleaned the sh*t out of 210kg but just missed the Jerk. Mind reflecting on what happened?
That lift will haunt me for some time but it just comes down to poor execution on my
part. I made a mistake that cost me a big lift. Now I just keep training and learn from
my mistakes. 210kg would have been a big accomplishment but the goal has and will
always be more.
Do you have any pre-comp superstitions or rituals?
One pre-comp ritual I have is watching the locker room speech from the movie Friday
Night Lights before I lift. The part of the speech that resonates with me the most is that
being perfecting is about being able to look your teammates coaches and family in the
eye and telling them you did your best and there wasn’t anything else that you could
have done in that movement. It sounds much better coming from Billy Bob Thornton
but that’s what fuels me to fight through adversity in competition. Things rarely ever go
as planned in competition but regardless of success or failure be honest with your
Being the seasoned competitor that you are, do you have any advice for those who are
in the beginning stages of their weightlifting careers?
My biggest piece of advice for new athletes of all ages in weightlifting is to compete
early and often. Competing is the best part of the sport, where hard work meets
opportunity. If you’re still waiting for your technique to get better you're wasting time,
just go sign up for a competition. Your first weightlifting meet will change your life.
What’s next on your competition schedule?
The goal is for the American Open Final to be a big statement meet for me. I have been
ramping up my total all year and I am right on track for a big total come December. There is still a possibility that I could be named to the World Team but I will keep my focus
on things that I can control for now.