Justin Broadbooks seized the opportunity to go to Fujian, China to improve his weightlifting skills.
The Wildwood native, a 2013 Eureka graduate, is a junior this fall at Lindenwood University and a member of the Lions’ weightlifting squad.
Lindenwood’s weightlifting coach is Jianping Ma, a Chinese Olympian and a former world team member. Each year, Ma takes a trip to China and brings athletes from around the world with him. There, they spend more than two weeks of training with Chinese Olympic caliber lifters and coaches.
“I took more than 20 athletes to the camp this summer,” said Ma, who was the Chinese National Junior team coach and former head coach of the USA Olympic Education Center among other impressive credentials.
Broadbooks, 20, was invited by coach Ma in April to join this year’s trip.
“I was very excited and humbled to have the opportunity to do something this unique,” Broadbooks said.
The purpose of the trip is simple.
“I want to help our athletes get a chance to learn from the best,” Ma said. “The Chinese team is one of the strongest teams in the world.” He said selecting Broadbooks was an easy decision.
“Justin is of my favorite athletes at Lindenwood,” Ma said. “He is a hard worker and easy to work with. He has a lot of potential in weightlifting. I wanted him to made this trip so that he would made more improvement and make it easy to prepare for the future national and international meets.”
The athletes trained at the Ma Jiang training base.
“There were five Chinese coaches who worked for us and helped us a lot,” Ma said. “It was great experiences for all of us. All of us has great time there.”
“It was a fantastic experience. The facility that we were fortunate enough to use was located atop a secluded mountain and near the city of Fuzhou,” Broadbooks said. “The atmosphere was surreal and intensely different from what we see in America. The lifters were entirely dedicated to their craft, forgoing all potential distractions that might influence their training.
“The Chinese athletes were very accomplished lifters and were willing to offer advice whenever possible. They took a great interest in our group, kindly answering all questions about lifting and culture.”
Their dedication impressed Broadbooks. He noted that they seem to compete for their country instead of just for themselves. The experience left a big impression on him.
“I grew as an athlete through watching the dedication of some of the most successful Chinese lifters,” Broadbooks said. “Their monastic lifestyles breed some of the strongest lifters in the world, all for the sake of honor. It was humbling to see people take pride in their country and go above and beyond the call to bring greatness to it.”
It wasn’t all lifting iron while in China. The group also got to take in some of the country.
“There were two days over the course of the trip that were dedicated to sightseeing,” Broadbooks said. “Some of the things that impressed me were the landscape and art of the region. One of the day trips took us to the top of a mountain located in the Fujian. The view overlooking the city was breathtaking and definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.
“Overall, the experience opened my eyes to the stark differences in our culture.”
Broadbooks became interested in Olympic weightlifting while still in high school at Eureka.
“Coach Thomas Sumner, the weightlifting coach at the time, encouraged me to seek out a spot on Lindenwood’s team during my senior year,” Broadbooks said. “After contacting Coach Ma, I learned of the school’s growing program, as well as the scholarship opportunities that it offered.”
Broadbooks competes in the Junior division, which is for ages 17 to 20. His weight class is 85 kilograms or about 187 pounds.
His training consists of many core lifts and some select auxiliary movements. The bulk of Broadbooks’ training focuses on building up the two competitive Olympic lifts – snatch and the clean and jerk.
“Those two movements are often broken down into parts to focus on a certain aspect of a lift,” Broadbooks said, “like pull speed from the knee. Power variations of the snatch and clean and jerk are common in training because they focus on the strength aspects of lifting as opposed to the speed aspect.
“Some form of the two lifts is practiced almost every training day accompanied by other bodybuilding exercises to strengthen weak spots and prevent injury.”
Ma is impressed with Broadbooks’ work ethic.
“Justin is talented and has great genetics,” Ma said. “I am pretty sure through his effort and training, he will become an elite athlete soon. My job is to help my athletes, including Justin, to make their Olympic dreams come true. We need to keep working hard and never give up.”
There really is no season for Olympic lifting. Athletes at Lindenwood are free to choose which competitions they would like to compete at throughout the year. To compete at higher level meets athletes in all weight classes are required to achieve certain weight totals. These totals will determine which elite competitions an athlete may compete in. Lifters also may compete in a few local meets per year along with many elite competitions on top of that.
Broadbooks said he has done “fairly well.” This past year, he was within the top six in his weight class for the junior division. He finished first overall in the 85kg class at regionals. But, for the upcoming year, the finance major has a more lofty goal.
“I would like to contribute to another national title for the Lindenwood Olympic weightlifting team,” Broadbooks said.
Ma believes the sky is the limit for Broadbooks, but he must keep working.
“Justin is still young and is still in need to make himself stronger in strength,” Ma said. “He enjoyed so much about the China trip. The most important thing is that Justin has made better techniques and has built up a lots of confidence and will benefit for his future in training and the competitions.
“As a good weightlifter in modern weightlifting, he must be provided with high stature and favorable quality in psychology besides speed strength. You need to be agile, coordinated and have plenty of experience.”