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Kendrick Farris on Vimeo.

“I just wanna say thanks… I just wanna say thank you lord for all you’ve done for me”

These are the words to one of my favorite gospel songs. I never thought I would make it this far. But with the help and support of my family, friends, coach, team-mates and people with bigger hearts than I would ever imagine in a million years. Much love!

Kendrick J. Farris

The British are coming! (FiveRingsAthletics.com)

Well, not exactly, but the Olympics are! London is set to host the 2012 Olympic Games in little more than a week.

The Olympics represent more than sport and competition. “Citius, Altius, Fortius.” This motto captures the essence of what drives us, individually and collectively, toward improvement. Each person’s performance at the Olympics captures the dedication required to get there. The significance of the Olympics makes these individuals’ stories even more compelling.

Kendrick Farris was kind enough to sit down with me before he heads to London to represent Team USA in the sport of weightlifting at his second Olympics. Kendrick, thanks for taking the time to share a little bit about yourself.

First, can you give readers a little background on how you got your start in weightlifting?

KF: I got started in weightlifting after the 1996 Olympic Games when USA Weightlifting opened one of twelve satellite programs established across the country in my hometown Shreveport, LA. I’ve been training and competing nationally for over 14 years now.

Wow, so you’ve been training for over half of your life! I’m sure over the course of your career that you’ve had your share of ups and downs. How do you handle training days that don’t seem to go how you’d like?

KF: Weightlifting is a ritual of life so there will naturally be ups and downs, good and bad days, but two things I tell myself are “If every day were a good day there would be no such thing as a good day” and “Today is a new day, which means I’ve never trained on this date before; therefore, it’s a personal record day.” So with all that said, the simplest thing to do is stay positive and not get bent out of shape so easily. It’s just training so enjoy the journey.

Speaking of journey, in 2008 you competed in Beijing. This year, you’re heading to London for your second Olympics. Is the second time around any different than the first? How does your mindset compare, in terms of what you focus on in training and what your goals are?

KF: I would have to say the biggest difference between this time and 2008 is that I’m not as overwhelmed with excitement. I’m focused on doing every lift the same, staying healthy, and visualizing myself take each lift in London.In 2008, my goal was just to make an Olympic Team. I didn’t make up my mind that I wanted to win until I got there, and, as you can see, it doesn’t work that way. My main goal this time around is to inspire people with my Faith and break records.

As you strive to achieve your goals, what do you think contributes to your success that others could implement in their training and lives?

KF: My guideline to life is God’s Word: the power that we have as believers is real. For those that don’t share my faith, it’s simple: Your goals have to be bigger than you can wrap your mind around. You need stepping stone goals that lead to your overall goals.

With all of this training under your belt, have you had any setbacks due to injury? What sorts of things do you do to stay healthy?

KF: I hurt my shoulder in Beijing back in 2008; I offset my pelvis in 2010, and again mid ‑2012. But I’m healthy now and doing more things to stay injury free. I have a PT that keeps me in line and I have some stretches and other exercises that you provided for me that helped with my shoulders and hips! At this point of my career, staying healthy is a must, so I do heat, ice, and stretch to keep my body going.

You’re a father, husband, Olympian, and run your own business. How do you balance all of these roles?

KF: It’s a challenge sometimes because I always feel like I can be doing more work whether it be in the gym or my office. I think what has helped me balance things is I’ve made my business a family affair. My wife helps me fill orders and my son will come with me to ship packages sometimes. This keeps everyone involved in what I have going on.

Last question, what’s your favorite event to watch at the Olympics?

KF: While I was in Beijing, the most impressive event I got to watch was the synchronized swimming. It was completely mind blowing to see in person!

Thank you for your time, Kendrick. Do you have any final words you’d like to share with us?

KF: We only do this thing called Life once, so make it worth living.

To support Kendrick and to find out more about his journey, make sure to visit KendrickJFarris.com.

*Note: Kendrick left today for London. We’d like to wish him a safe journey and great training in these final stages of preparation. Make sure to catch Kendrick compete on August 3. Here’s a link to all of the scheduled sessions, including Kendrick’s: Olympic Weightlifting Event Schedule

FiveRingsAthletics.com

 

Weightlifter Heads to London with Renewed Faith, Focus

Kendrick Farris knew about God, and he made a decision to follow Him from a young age. But it was an injury sustained during the 2008 Beijing Olympics that would pull Farris back to his Christian roots and out of the lifestyle he had fallen into.

“I was right at the end of my competition and hurt my shoulder. I was able to make it through it OK, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” recalls Farris, a native of Shreveport, La., and a member of the 2012 weightlifting team for the United States.

After talking with doctors about the options for repairing the damage, Farris realized his life habits Kendrick Farris Bless the Gymwould need to change if he was really going to turn things around, both physically and spiritually. He opted to take the injury to God and let Him guide him in the right direction. He decided to forgo surgery and started an intensive rehab program to work through the shoulder pain.

“I finally lined my work ethic up with my faith.”

Getting back on track with God was key to putting his life in order completely, Farris says.

“After the (2008) games, I didn’t train from the end of August until the end of December, and I had that time to get some things together in my life,” he recalls. “I knew what my goals were and didn’t want to lose sight of that. But I wanted to give it all to God and just work hard. I finally lined my work ethic up with my faith.”

Now, with the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, Farris is excited to bring a new attitude into his second Games appearance. He says Beijing meant the fulfillment of a goal and a chance to meet some great people from throughout the sporting world. Just getting to see other events and hear the stories of fellow Olympians made the experience special. This time around Farris will experience the Olympics with his new perspective.

His uncle suggested he check it out

Farris was a young man of 11 in 1996 when USA Weightlifting began branching out its training centers in an effort to grow the sport following the Atlanta Olympics. Out of 12 satellite centers opened that year, one just happened to be in Farris’ hometown, located on the Louisiana State University – Shreveport campus. His uncle suggested Farris check it out, and the pair began going to LSU a few times a week.

Young Kendrick qualified for his first national tournament at age 12 and just kept competing, along with playing football and basketball in school. But at age 16, he opted to focus solely on the weightlifting, believing that he could reach a higher level in the sport. When it was time for college, he decided to stay at LSU-Shreveport so he could continue training while studying mass communication. While he hoped to make the 2004 Olympic team, he didn’t qualify for the Trials.

Getting back on track

One day while working at a local restaurant, the TV was set to the Olympics and ironically, his weight class of weightlifting was on at the time. A coworker pointed that out.

“He asked me, ‘Isn’t that what you do?’ and I realized then that’s what I was supposed to be doing,” Farris says. “I decided right then that I wanted to be on the next team.”

That next semester, Farris dropped to part-time status in school to pour more attention into training for the 2008 Trials and team. He continued competing internationally to get exposure. As soon as he left Beijing, in spite of the shoulder injury, he decided he wanted to go one more round and set his sights on 2012. He’s hoping to finish up the last few classes of his degree after he gets home from London.

The key to his current successes

While life seems to be on the upswing for Farris, he realizes that working hard and relying on God are key to his current successes.

Kendrick Farris USA“What I’m doing now, those desires are from God, and He cares about those things. If we’re doing it to glorify His name, there’s no way we can fail,” Farris says. “I may not do exactly what I want to do, but if I’m doing it for Him, I won’t be disappointed. I want to share my story with people and inspire others.”

Growth spiritually has come primarily through focusing on the Bible, and he feels the promises therein don’t come without preparation on his part and awareness of the power of God to be tapped. Those truths keep him going and remind him why he’s giving so much time to the sport. Psalm 63:4 – “So I will bless you as long as I live, in your name I will lift up my hands.” – inspires and helps Farris focus during meets.

“Bless the Gym”

Farris’ motto, found on t-shirts he sells, is “Bless the Gym,” and he says the phrase has double meaning. What started as an inside joke with a friend has come to represent Farris’ philosophy: the gym can represent the physical body and the need to take care of it, or “bless it” with an active and healthy lifestyle. It can also be a reminder to bless the physical gym building he frequents with his time, talent and presence and to be a good influence on those around him. The theme paints a picture of Farris’ motivation to compete and the faith that fuels him.

“The centerpiece of my peace is God, my Lord and Savior. That’s why I do what I do,” he says. “I’ve been blessed with these abilities, so why would I not want to do my best and leave a legacy through that? I don’t just want to excel athletically, but that gives me a platform to connect with people.”

 

By Teresa Young, AIA Communication

Photos courtesy Kendrick Farris, USA Weightlifting by teresa young 19. July 2012 06:45