Jenna Bussard admits that she was very lucky.
The freshman weightlifter from Savannah Technical College was in a car accident last month when a drunk driver t-boned her friend’s car. Bussard, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, went through the backside window and rolled into a ditch.
Bussard didn’t suffer any major injuries from the car accident. She left the incident with a few bruises, but didn’t have to go to the hospital.
“He hit us going about 60,” she said.
Bussard competed in the senior nationals the same weekend after the car accident in Columbus, Ohio.
“I did really bad that meet,” Bussard said.
One month later, Bussard competed in the USA Weightlifting National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships on Sunday at the Downtown Reno Ball Room in Reno, NV.
Bussard won the 75+kg snatch and clean and jerk lift. She lifted 90 kg in the snatch and 121 kg in the clean and jerk. Any trace of the accident had vanished.
Bussard’s passion for weightlifting is what pushed her to compete in the Ohio meet even though it was within a couple days of the unnerving car accident. Bussard started weightlifting while playing nose guard for her high school football team in Harrisburg, Md.
“It was hard because people will try to hurt you when they find out you’re a girl,” she said. “It’s just part of the sport, though.”
Bussard said the reason she loves weightlifting is the team environment.
“It’s like one big happy family,” she said. “We all work really hard to push each other.”
Her coach Henry Myers said that Bussard works better than anyone at motivating her teammates.
“She is always out here watching everyone else’s lifts,” Myers said. “She is a real team player.”
Bussard hopes to compete in the Olympics or the World University tournament in Greece. In 2006, Bussard went to the Junior World’s championship in Korea, where she placed seventh out of 26 lifters in the out-of-country competition.
“Leaving the country really makes you miss America,” Brussard said.
She said that a few people on her weightlifting team got sick from drinking the water and eating certain foods they were told not to eat.
“For the most part I liked it, but I was happy to come back home,” she said.
Bussard is going to college for business education and welding, while also working with inner city kids at the Hinesville Gym in Hinesville, GA.
“Knowing that they’re not out doing drugs…is a plus,” Bussard said. “We have enough of that. It’s sad when you see people shooting other people.”
The city-owned gym is free to the public and is directed by one of Bussard’s coaches Michael Cohen. Bussard spends most of her time there, either lifting or being a mentor to the kids.
“My job is to bring them in to the gym and coach them and train them,” she said. “I have a couple kids with ankle bracelets (on parole) and it’s cool that they picked this as being their activity of the day.”
Given her recent victory, Bussard’s coaching is likely to carry considerable weight these days.