Weightlifting turned into weight juggling at the National Sports Festival today and the big loser was Ron Crawley, the 123-pound national champion from Washington, D.C.
Despite virtually taking up residence in the steam room since his arrival here Tuesday night, Crawley weighed in 150 grams over the 56-kilogram limit for his class and was disqualified. Then, allowed to compete on an exhibition basis, Crawley suffered from cramps that reduced his snatch to 187 1/4 pounds, considerably below his best of 195.
The big winner was Albert Hood, who competed at 60 kilos but weighed in at 55.9 kilos and was able to set a 56-kilo American record of 239 pounds for the snatch and an American junior mark for his total lift of 498 1/4 pounds.
More important to Hood, the official total of 225 kilos qualified him to remain here, along with Crawley, for the national team training camp. It was a minor point that he received only a bronze medal for third place.
The altitude, which has troubled so many athletes here, was responsible for Crawley's predicament, because it restricted his normal training. "I usually jog a certain amount, but I couldn't do it in this air," Crawley said. "Not jogging cut down on my sweating and I wasn't able to lose the weight."
When Crawley came out to compete in the snatch, he was bothered by cramps in both calves, obviously caused by the salt loss that accompanied his steam sessions. After lifting 187 1/4, he tried 198 1/4, but slipped and fell. Trying that weight again three minutes later, he had no chance. He refused to quit, however, and managed 253 1/2 in the clean and jerk portion of the event, thereby matching the 440 3/4-pound total with which he won his U.S. title.
An important factor in Crawley's success in the U.S. Championships was Hood's failure to post a mark in the clean and jerk. As a result, when Hood tried his first jerk today at 259 1/4, more than twice his body weight, he was "shaking like a leaf."
Hood was unable to clean and jerk 264 1/2 in the nationals, although he had done better previously, and it cost him a berth on the Pan American Games team.
"It was supposed to be a safe start, but I guess it wasn't too safe," Hood said. "I don't mind. Now that I get to train here, I'll be peaking for the Olympics while everybody else goes on trips."
Hood, 4 feet 11, is from Los Angeles and was lured into weightlifting four years ago by his biology and homeroom teacher at Van Nuys High, who also was the weightlifting coach.
"It made sense," Hood said. "All my friends played basketball, but at 4-11 it was kind of tough. Now, I hope I don't grow. I like it this way."