1. You are a head coach at the Academy, but people may or may not know you are a accomplished Olympic weightlifter. Have you always been attracted to athletics?  

I've always been into sports but it was a very raw unguided desire. Basically a regular athletic kid, playing on the school sports teams for fun with buddies and what not. Nothing super serious. Before finding the Academy I actually thought I'd like to go into computer programming!

2. How long have you been training in Olympic weightlifting? And what are some of your accomplishments?

I've trained specifically for olympic weightlifting for about 4 years now, The first two years were a mix of CrossFit and Oly-lifting, the last 2 years has been very specific toward olympic weightlifting. Which resulted in me taking 2nd place at the 2016 provincial meet (Ontario), along with 4th place at the 2016 national meet (Canada).

3. Who are some of your biggest influences either as a coach or athlete?

 Obviously one of my biggest influences would be my coach Alex Varbanov! He's helped me focus my passion and desire to do something great and funneled it into olympic weightlifting. He's also instilled some of my best qualities as a man, simple things really like; Patience, determination, and believing in my self worth as an athlete and person.

As for athletes that inspire me I could literally go on forever, Norik Vardanian from the states, Niki Varbanov my current training partner from Bulgaria, and Mohamed Ihab from Egypt.  All 3 of these guys inspire me for different reasons, Norik simply because his technique is beautiful his lifting is poetry in motion.  Niki because he is dedicated beyond belief, this 16 year old kid has not missed a session or given up on himself since the day I meet him 4 years ago.... His hunger is limitless! Lastly Mohamed because of his passion and intensity, this man looks like he is possessed by demons when he is in competition then he'll drop the bar and have a smile from ear to ear.

 Photo by Clance Laylor.

Photo by Clance Laylor.

4. What is the big deal between KG and pounds?  Does it really matter?

 Haha honestly there isn't such a big deal here. In short weightlifting is an International sport and in international level competition you'd never ever see the weights in pounds. Therefore the people who plan on being good enough for international level competition usually practice in Kilos.

5. What is a typical training day for you? 

Well normally My training sessions will start with a 5-15 minute Warm-up, all I'm really doing here is analyzing my body. Checking to see whats sore or beat up from the day before, stretching it out maybe foam rolling it and what not until I can move around with a wooden dowel in all of my positions (Snatch + Clean & Jerk) without pain or interference.  Once that's done I take a look at the program and grab the equipment I'll need including snacks haha. Anywhere from 2-4 hours later I end just the way I started, with an assessment of my body checking on what hurts and trying to make it feel better before leaving the gym!

6. How has your experience in the sport helped you as a coach?

Well I started this sport as a 17 year-old which for most people who do this competitively is a little bit late. There were "growing pains" associated with the last couple of years. Things like shoulders, knees, and wrists adapting to the new stresses of Olympic weightlifting.  I feel that these experiences and the fact that the sport wasn't taught to me from a super young age forced to me truly understand and learn what I was trying to do with my body, which now makes it easier to guide others down the same road.

7. What are some of your interests out of your training? You can’t always be lifting heavy shit.

To be honest I'm a simple dude! Outside of lifting the one other thing I couldn't live without is music I have my headphones on unless I'm speaking with someone or sleeping, it doesn't even matter the genre I'll jam to almost anything just no country hahaha! Secondly I'm a gamer, growing up that's just what crew of people did... play sports all day, go inside and game all night, those were simpler times!

8. In every gym across the world people ask “ how much do you lift?”  So Jay, how much do you lift? ( Clean & jerk / Snatch )

 I currently Snatch 131 kg, along with a Clean & Jerk of 162 kg. Obviously those numbers bounce around depending on a long list of variables like sleep, food, work, etc. However the goal is always to move forward.

9. Asking you what your goals are seems cliché. So what do you want to take away from your Olympic Weightlifting training?

Honestly I've become passionate about the sport I enjoy the daily grind on good and bad days it's all become fun for me. The only thing I want to know is where is my limit. Where does my body say "No more", even when I do find that number I know myself... I'll try to get passed that as well, so there is no take away. I already get what I want from the sport on a daily basis, the joy of challenging myself until failure then breaking through that wall!

10. Thanks for putting up with my questions, I know you would rather be lifting. What advice would you give some one looking to start out in the sport?

 My advice would be to find a coach or team that inspires you in some way and chase your limit. Who's to say you can't be a Provincial, National, or even World champion? Only thing stopping you is you.


For more information on Justin check it HERE.