Crotonblog has a confession to make. While we were busy covering the chemical additives controversy, we neglected to bring readers a pleasant little success story about a local individual. That story concerns Montrose resident Jeff Scott, who placed second in an Olympic weightlifting competition at the Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park, Queens, on November 10 and 11. Memorializing an incident from the First World War, the Lost Battalion Hall is also home to a team that won the Olympic Weightlifting team title that same weekend.
The competition, the American Masters Olympic Weightlifting Championships, brought 134 weightlifters from all parts of the country to Rego Park to compete for titles and awards. “Masters” are lifters over 35 years of age who compete in groups delineated by age and the competitor’s body weight. Classical Olympic weightlifting events, in which an athlete raises a barbell from the floor to over his head, should not be confused with power lifting events, in which movements are shorter, the weights are even heavier, and success is achieved mostly by sheer brute strength.
In Olympic weightlifting, two events, or lifts, comprise the sport. One is the snatch in which competitors must lift the barbell over their heads from the floor in one continuous movement. The other is the clean and jerk in which competitors first “clean” the barbell from the floor to an intermediate position, “racking” the bar in a front squat, then standing up, and finally “jerking” the barbell to a position above their head. In both events, for a successful lift, competitors must hold the bar steady above their heads, with arms and legs straight and motionless.
Form is all-important in Olympic weightlifting. Three judges verify the successful completion of the lift. Once a competitor has met the requirements in their opinion, the judge illuminates a white light. When at least two white lights are shown, the lift is regarded as successful, and the competitor may return the bar to the platform. If the competitor fails to achieve a successful lift in the opinion of a judge, a red light is shown. Two or more red lights disqualify the lift. In order for the lift to count, the bar must be lifted to at least knee level within 60 seconds after the bar has been loaded. Competitors making two consecutive attempts at lifts are permitted 120 seconds for the second lift.
After a 25-year layoff from the sport, Jeff Scott decided to try his hand at Olympic weightlifting again. Two years ago he made his way to Rego Park in Queens, a center for Olympic weightlifting in the metropolitan area. Starting slowly and carefully, within a year of constant practice, he finished second in his weight and age class in the 2006 National Masters Olympic Weightlifting competition in El Paso, Texas. On Oct. 27, 2007, Jeff Scott was also awarded the Best Men’s Master Lifter Award at the annual Metropolitan Weightlifting Association Dinner.
The Jeff Scott Story, if we may call it that, is an interesting comeback cum success story. His lifts at this year’s American Masters competition (six for six) exceeded last year’s lifts at El Paso. The photo below, taken at this year’s American Masters competition awards ceremony at Rego Park, shows how well training and practice pay off.
Receiving his award. Second-place winner Jeff Scott is on the left; third-place finisher and fellow Lost Battalion Hall lifter Kurt Levy of Plainsboro, N.J., is on the right. First-place finisher John Donahue of Wilmington, Delaware, is in the center.
Jeff Scott was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, but moved to Croton at the age of four, after living with his parents for two years in Turkey. He started in the Croton school in kindergarten and graduated from Croton-Harmon High School in 1977, where he participated in football, wrestling and track and field. In the latter event, he held the New York State high school record for the hammer throw.
After a year at Bucknell University, Jeff applied for admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was captain of the track team and in 1982 broke the Academy record for the 35-pound weight throw—a record that had stood for 28 years. An honor graduate in the class of 1982 at West Point, he carried a double major in Arabic and French.
A stint at the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California, gave him fluency in Italian. After service in Italy and Germany, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jeff left the Army in 1992. At that time of his separation from the Army, he held the rank of captain and was serving as an instructor in tactics at the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After leaving the Army, he enrolled at Pace University, where he received a M.S. in Information Science.
He now lives in Montrose with his wife, Manrica. They have two daughters: Ilaria, entering her junior year at Stony Brook University, where she is majoring in European languages, and Veronica, a junior at Hendrick Hudson High School.
Jeff Scott extols the virtues of Olympic weightlifting, a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone from seven to seventy and beyond. Men and women lifters are categorized by age in three major categories: Juniors, up to 20 years; Seniors, 21 to 34 years; Masters, 35 and older. Lest readers get the idea that the sport is only for the young, in the recent Masters championships at Rego Park, twelve of the lifters were over 70, and one male participant was lifting at the ripe old age of 85 years.
The premier facility for learning or practicing the skills associated with this sport is in the borough of Queens in New York City, where coaching and instruction are available from USAW coaches. Established in 1962, the Olympic style weightlifting program at Lost Battalion Hall is recognized throughout the weightlifting world as a producer of champions. The facility offers spacious modern weightlifting facilities, including six weightlifting platforms, two power racks, four squat racks, fifteen Olympic bars and thousands of pound of weights.
Lost Battalion Hall, 93-29 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, New York 11374.
Hours of operation are: