Knowledge and lifting go hand in hand for Asselin
by Randy Pascal
There is still so much to learn for local weightlifter Joel Asselin.
Certainly, there is no denying that the 18 year-old Olympic style lifter has enjoyed a healthy run of success, proving himself more than competitive on
both a provincial and national scale.
To suggest his search for knowledge is complete, in a whole variety of different aspects, is naive. The past twelve months alone have continued to
expand the spectrum of his expertise, both in competition, and otherwise.
Looking at a very realistic chance of capturing his classification at the Ontario Senior Championships, Asselin missed the weight cutoff. "It
was a learning experience," he said. "It kind of sucked, because I had a chance, for sure, to place."
"But I was more motivated and more focused for the Canadian Seniors, watching my weight more. We focused on making me stronger and improving technically,
which made my lifts a lot better. I won't say that I was sloppy, before, but it made the groove feel better."
"I can always make myself better based on how I did at the last competition. And the more I progress, the more I get noticed." Earning a bronze medal at
the Canadian Senior Championships in the 62 kg (135 pound) division provided a very encouraging offset to the disapointment of the provincial event.
"That was my biggest accomplishment," said Asselin. "It's not all that likely for juniors to place at seniors." Yes, the number of competitors is
relatively limited, though coach Alex Fera noted that this has as much to do with the very stringent qualifying standards required to even enter the
Through he all, Asselin accumulated a greater and greater understanding of his craft. "I learn from other lifters," he explained. "When I watch, I learn
things from other lifters. There's a lifter from out west, and he's really good in the jerk position, and I'm kind of taking notes in the back of my head."
To some extent, Asselin has no choice but to learn from a variety of folks in his surroundings. When competing at nationals, he would be working
alongside a Team Ontario coach with whom he had limited interaction, with provincial team coaches assigned based on only those who have groomed the very top
level of national weighlifters.
"It's frustrating for a coach, because I work with him day and night for eight years, but I'm not allowed to coach him at a provincial level," suggested
Fera. "It was something that Joel had to overcome. I've started bringing in more people, people with different looks."
"If you are selected as a coach, you are being handed an athlete you see once every two months," Fera continued. "You don't know his ups and downs. Even
from a strategy side, what weight to open at, you don't know the athlete."
Given the development that Asselin has demonstrated over a relatively short time, his coach believes there is still more to give, although it will have
to come soon. "It's an on-going process of tweaking for technique," said Fera.
"You still have to increase the strength, that's always going to be there. But you strive to find the hot buttons. Joel has a small window (about 18
months) to qualify for World Juniors." The current standards are 220 lbs (clean and jerk) and 275 (snatch), though any combination of 495 (lbs) will do
Asselin is close, comfortably doing 210/215 in the clean and jerk. "I've focused on pushing him heavier with his Olympic lifts, forcing the lighter to
go heavier. We do ten other assisted exercises to aid those two lifts. But we need higher frequency and a little heavier."
For Joel Asselin, more learning still lies ahead.