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Training helps Pugh take gold

Crossfit Andalusia co-owner Karen Pugh became the first Olympic Weightlifting World Champion from Alabama after earning the gold medal at the World Championship in Barcelona, Spain recently.

“Months ago, Karen asked me if I thought she was ready to compete in Spain for the World Championship in Olympic weightlifting,” Crossfit Andalusia co-owner and Pugh’s trainer Jason Kelley said. “I told her I’d research and see how her lifts were trending.”

After research from Kelley and Pugh’s husband Mark, they decided that for her to have a chance she would need to compete in a lower weight class.

“It was relayed to her that to win gold in Spain she would have to train even harder and cut 18 pounds in 40 days,” Kelley said. “This would have to be done without losing any strength whatsoever.”

Pugh quickly cut her weight and was stronger than ever going into the event, Kelley said.

“Her lifts were some of the best I’ve ever seen her get,” Kelley said. “The decision was made to take on a more aggressive approach for this competition than the conservative approaches that won silver at nationals this year, as well as silver at the world champoionship in 2015. That decision obviously paid off big. Maybe even bigger than we thought, she is the first from Alabama to win this gold title. ”

Kelley said that it’s pretty special to have a world champion, not only from Alabama, but from Andalusia.

“To have a world champion from the U.S., that is from Alabama and of this town of ours is very unique,” Kelley said. “Big Shot Bob (Robert Horry) is the only world champion (NBA) that I can recall being from Andalusia, until now. Karen’s is an individual No. 1, there are no teammates.”

Kelley said that even though it’s an individual sport, Pugh’s success was aided by others along the way.

“Donnie ‘Super D’ Thompson is a contributer to Karen’s success and a name all athletes should look up,” Kelley said. “I can’t express enought how much his constant communication with us was very key to winning it all. Training partners are a huge deal here at Crossfit. I select athletes that will push and lift more than Karen in the weight room. Our trainers, Renee Bullard, also an Olympic weightlifter, Krystal Johnson and Bobbie Myer partner up with on a day-to-day basis. We will also bring in others from all of the country. Whatever it takes.”

The gold medal is big for Crossfit Andalusia, Kelley said.

“Now, Crossfit Andalusia is home to the Olympic Masters World Champion,” Kelley said. “That’s what our clients deserve, the best, there is not any level higher than that. If so, Karen would go after it. We all lift weights at CFA and apparently the International Weightlifting Federation says one of my athletes is the best at it.  Even sent her back to the U.S. with a gold medal to prove it.”