Official, Founder, Champion

By Caitlin Calsbeek in Sports

What would you do if you had the expertise of a national champion and Olympic Games official at your fingertips? Clark weightlifting students get just that unique opportunity.

Judy Glenney is an adjunct instructor who began teaching at Clark in 1999. This quarter, she teaches beginning weight training, intermediate weight training, core conditioning and fitness center skills.

Glenney said in addition to being a weightlifting national champion and officiating at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, she helped jumpstart the women’s national weightlifting competition.

Glenney’s husband Gary introduced her to weightlifting between her junior and senior years of college. Her first competition was in 1972 when she was 23 years old.

Glenney won the first Women’s Nationals in weightlifting held in Waterloo, Iowa in 1981. She said her edge is that she has been lifting against men since 1972.

The competition was open to all women who could prove their experience in weightlifting. Each competitor performed two lifts, the snatch, and the clean and jerk. The total score was a combination of both lift’s best scores out of three attempts each.

She said the clean and jerk takes skill. When Glenney teaches it, she breaks the move into what she calls “compartments.” The middle of those three requires a lot of speed and strength, and Glenney said confidence requires hundreds of lifts.

“If you wanted to compete in powerlifting, I could have you ready for competition in two weeks,” Glenney said. “But in weightlifting, not so much because it’s so much technique.”

Olympic lifts used to include another lift called a “two-handed press,” which involved entirely upper-body strength and put a lot of stress on the back. Glenney recalled pictures of men whose upper backs are almost parallel to the floor.

The removal of this lift from the Olympics in 1973 opened up weightlifting competition for women because it eliminated the requirement for immense upper body strength, according to Glenney.

“The snatch and the clean and jerk are basically leg movements with a little bit of arms thrown in there,” Glenney said.

She won the National Women’s Weightlifting Championship in the 67.5 kilogram weight class four times from 1981-84.

Glenney didn’t just win though, she also organized the event.

After competing, Glenney began officiating in 1992 and acquired her category-1 international card, which allowed her to officiate national championships and the Olympic Games.

Glenney witnessed the inaugural Olympic competition for women’s weightlifting when she officiated the Sydney Games in 2000. That year, two Americans took medals in the competition.

Glenney was appointed to the International Technical Committee and was in charge of the rules. She said they were trying to add a woman’s voice to the committee to handle sensitive issues such as weigh-ins. Glenney said these were one of the major challenges women faced joining the sport.

She said there were problems regarding young women competitors who would weigh in naked with male coaches around. They solved this by having a female official to take the male coach’s place.

“The adversities, I think, were not as much as some women had gone through simply because I had my husband competing in the same sport,” she said. Women who were a part of a club had a better chance of entering the sport, she said.

Glenney was forced to take back doors to be a part of weightlifting, but after she started competing there was no stopping her.

Glenney credited her husband for her entrance into the weightlifting world.

“He’s been the catalyst the whole time,” she said.

Though she competed throughout high school and college in many different sports, Glenney said she found her calling.

“I was a Jill of all and master of none,” she said, “until I got to weight training.”

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