Strength Coach Plays Weighting Game

April 6, 2004

Nick Marinello
Phone: (504) 865-5714

Anna Martin is a contender. In May, the Green Wave assistant strength coach will travel to St. Joseph, Mo., to compete in the Olympic weightlifting trials.

weightIf she is successful she will find herself on an airplane to Greece later this summer. But Martin is taking it one day at a time. Just being included as one of the participants in the trials is an honor, and besides, she has the Senior National Championships in March to consider first, not to mention her day-to-day work at Tulane.

Martin, 24, joined the athletics department last summer, and is responsible for strength and conditioning workouts for the men's and women's tennis, golf and swimming teams. She also lends a hand working with the football and basketball squads.

"You create the workout that's best for each sport. A tennis work-out will be different than one for golf," she says, but adds that generally Tulane athletes are drilled in cardiovascular training such as running and footwork exercises, as well as weight training.

Martin puts herself through a two-hour training session, five days a week, going through the paces of Olympic-style weightlifting moves such as the "snatch" and the "clean and jerk." Not the most elegant of terms, perhaps, but if you've watched Olympic weightlifting you're probably familiar with the moves.

"A snatch is a wide grip on the bar," explains Martin. "With one fluid motion you pull the bar over your head. With clean and jerk you take the bar from the floor to your chest, and then jerk it over your head."

The hardest thing about training, says Martin, is doing it without a lifting partner. "It's hard to push yourself when you don't have someone to train with," she says, noting that athletes devoted to Olympic-style weightlifting are not easy to find. "There's a guy in Slidell, teams in Baton Rouge and Shreveport, but the sport is kind of new here."

Also, being in New Orleans means Martin is forced to train away from the coach she has had since high school. Fortunately, she has found support from Curtis Tsuruda, Tulane's director of strength and conditioning. "He has helped me. He comes by, watches my techniques and makes sure I'm doing things right."

These days Martin, who competes in the 151-pound weight class, can snatch about 165 pounds and clean and jerk 210 pounds. She began weightlifting as a freshman in high school, back in Onaga, Kan., and continued in the sport while she earned a degree in health and exercise science from Missouri Western State College.

Martin has coached strength and conditioning for six years, but began coaching at the university level two years ago at Oklahoma State. She is a member of USA Weightlifting, the national governing body for Olympic weightlifting, and is a regular competitor in USAW-sanctioned meets. Last December, Martin took third place at the American Open. In order to be eligible to qualify for the Olympic trials, weightlifters have to compete in the major USAW meets.

The results from the Senior National Championships this month will determine her rank among the 30 female competitors at the Olympic trials. Only two wo-men will be selected to attend the games in Greece, however. Tsuruda says that Martin's competitive spirit is a real asset to the department.

"I want people who can bring things to the table," he says. "Anna's expertise as a competitive Olympic lifter is a real help. We use some of those movement in our year-round training."

Weight training is no longer a luxury for collegiate athletes, says Tsuruda, who has coached at Division I-A level for 12 years and is in his third year at Tulane.

"If everybody else is doing it, then you better be doing it, too. If not, it is like going in the OK Corral with a water gun." Whether Martin will get her chance to go for the gold remains to be seen. In any case, weightlifting is likely to play a central role in her life. "I would one day like to have my own team with Olympic-style weightlifters. Have my own center, someplace. I'd like to have a team and send some of them to the Olympics."

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