Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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Andalusia locals Karen Pugh and Renee Bullard traveled from East Coast to West Coast in three weeks to sweep the competition in Olympic weightlifting at the American Open III in Daytona, Fla., and the World Cup 2019 in San Diego.

Pugh took home the gold in both competitions with a 103-kilogram total at the American Open III and a 109-kilogram total at the World Cup.

Pugh said this year was all about World Cup redemption. She placed silver in the 2015 World Cup, which was held in Dallas, and has had this one circled ever since.

Bullard swept bronze at both of the meets. She accomplished a weight cut and successfully dropped a bodyweight class for the American Open III. Three weeks later she was back at her original body weight and that too played out as planned.

Their coach, Jason Kelley said he doesn’t prefer major meets so close together, but agreed to monitor them in the CrossFit Andalusia weight room.

“I don’t prefer major meets this close together due to the training cycles, which are timed in order for them to peak on game day,” Kelley said. “Plus, the abnormal training stress placed on their bodies in our weight room at CrossFit Andalusia has to be monitored and be precise.”

Since the two meets were so close together, Kelley chose a program designed to peak while they were in California.

“The American Open III had over 1,250 lifters, making it the second-largest competition ever in the world,” Kelley said. “It was one they asked me if they could go to and lift for fun. I was reluctant at first since it was so close to the World Cup, but we agreed to give it a shot. The training program was then adjusted for them to lift enough to at least medal in Daytona and use Daytona as another training day in their cycle for the World Cup. The entire program was designed to peak this past weekend in California and it did just that. They believed in it, put in the training hours and won. Seeing them perform their lifts at the convention center with the USA gear on was very special. As they stood on the podium receiving their medals, and then hearing the Star Spangled Banner being played, thinking of everyone back home in Alabama, Andalusia and at CrossFit Andalusia was easy.”