COMING HOME WITH SILVER: Local CrossFitters compete in national tourney

Published 12:05 am Thursday, April 12, 2018

CrossFit Andalusia members Karen Pugh and Renee Bullard put up strong showings recently at the 2018 USA National Masters Weightlifting Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.

Pugh came in second place and Bullard came in ninth.

This was Pugh’s second time competing in the national championship, but it was the first year that she placed.

“It was exciting to know that I’m No. 2 in the nation,” Pugh said. “At first, I was disappointed that I didn’t win gold just because I was so close to winning. The girl that won the gold lifted 110 and I lifted 109. Once the disappointment lifted, it was really exciting.”

Pugh and Bullard are both coached by Jason Kelley of CrossFit Andalusia.

“We are really still infants in this,” Pugh said. “For the most part, a lot of the people that compete in the Olympic weightlifting events have been doing this for their entire lives. We just started four years ago.”

For Bullard, this was her first year competing in the national championship.

“Renee did a great job,” Pugh said. “She came into the championship as the No. 19 lifter and she finished No. 9. Jason has done such a great job coaching both of us. He is always coming up with programs to help us get better.”

Pugh said it was exciting to have Bullard along with them for the national championship this year.

“It was really great having Renee with me this year,” Pugh said. “We were able to be there for each other and keep each other pumped up. I’ve always said that the coaches have the hardest job and while watching Renee and helping Jason keep track of her competition made me more nervous than when I was lifting. You have to know what the other lifters are doing. If you both are going for the same weight and they get it first, they are going to be ahead of you even though you both lifted the same weight. There is more that goes into in than just going out there and lifting.”

Up next, Pugh said the pair are debating going to the World Championship in Spain in August.

“By qualifying for the national championship we are both eligible to compete in the World Championships this year in Spain,” Pugh said. “It would be a really great experience, but we haven’t decided if we are going to do that or not this year.”

Pugh said that by competing in this year’s World Championship they wouldn’t have to qualify for next year’s national championships.

To qualify for the national championship, lifters have to compete in a sanctioned United States Weightlifting event and lift a certain amount of weight.

Although the events have nothing to do with CrossFit, Pugh said that CrossFit has helped get more people into the sport of weightlifting.

“Olympic weightlifting is starting to make a comeback and the Olympic committee has said that CrossFit has been a big part of that,” Pugh said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s out there because it isn’t televised a lot like some of the other Olympic sports. It’s available for any age group. If anyone is interested in getting into the sport, they should come up here and talk to Jason.”

Kelley along with Pugh and her husband, Mark, own CrossFit Andalusia.