The Politics of Weightlifting


Those of you who follow this blog know that I normally stay out of the politics of weightlifting. I usually do my own little thing and leave the governance of the sport to people who like that sort of thing. Or at least dislike it less than I do. And when I do feel strongly about something, normally it is only the lifters I coach and a few friends that hear about it.

But I am going to address a current issue publicly now because I think it is important.

The 2013 International Event Qualification Procedures are being voted on by the Board of Directors on Wednesday, January 16th and I have a big disagreement with some of it.

As it stands now, we have several qualification competitions for each international event. The US team for an international event like the World Championships is determined by how athletes do at these qualifying competitions. It is pretty cut and dried, the person who lifts the most wins. Comparing between weight classes is done using a formula that is predetermined. At the end of the last qualifying competition, everyone knows who made the team, and who did not.

That is about to change if the 2013 Qualification Procedures is passed by the Board of Directors in its current form.

The current language allows athletes who have “made” the team via the qualifying competitions, along with athletes who failed to make the team, to all be invited to a training camp at the OTC during the time period between the last qualifier and the competition.

During this training camp, athletes who did not make the team via the qualification competitions can displace athletes who did and take their place on the team. In the event that an athlete is not able to travel to and attend the training camp, he or she can be displaced on the team by an athlete who was able to travel to and attend the camp.

I believe this is discriminatory against athletes who do not live at the OTC, and may not be able to come to the camps to “defend” their place on a team. Most athletes outside of the OTC (and most of the athletes who make international teams do NOT live at the OTC) go to school, or have jobs. Many of these athletes simply cannot drop out of their normal life to go to Colorado Springs for one or two weeks. Most of the coaches of these athletes cannot drop out of their normal lives to go spend time in Colorado Springs. The athletes who do not attend are left without a fair chance to defend the team slot that they have earned through the qualification competitions. Athletes who might be able to attend, but their coach cannot, are also left at a disadvantage when in competition for a team slot with athletes whose coaches can attend.

In addition to that, opening up the qualifying procedures to events outside of open, sanctioned weightlifting competitions also could add a degree of subjectivity to the selection process. Even the best of us can favor individuals we like or are even just more familiar with without being conscious of it. Who are the athletes most likely hurt by any subjectivity that might creep in? Athletes who are not OTC residents, and athletes who might not have a coach that is able to make the trip. The same people who are least likely to be able to attend the camps.

I understand that this language is being inserted to deal with some perceived problems with our present selection process. But there are other ways to fix problems without opening the can of worms that this proposal opens. For instance, some feel that our qualifying meets are too far away from the international competitions. A reasonable solution would be to move the qualifying competitions closer in time to the international competitions, or if that is not possible, introduce another sanctioned competition closer international meet in question.

Whatever we do, let’s keep our qualifying procedures for international competition limited to sanctioned competitions where everyone has an equal chance to compete and win or lose on the platform. Let us NOT introduce procedures that lead to an athletes place of residence, job situation, financial situation, as well as their coaches situation give them an advantage or disadvantage.

Here is the URL for the 2013 International Event Qualification Procedures if you want to read it for yourself.

Click to access 2013USAWInternationalCompetitionReferenceGuideForAthletes1.2.13.pdf

Here are the names and contact info for the Board of Directors. They are meeting Wednesday, January 16. If you agree with me please contact someone on the board, and let them know how you feel.

Name Membership Area Represented E-mail
CJ Bennett Grassroots
Terry Grow Grassroots
David Boffa Athlete Rep
Ari Sherwin Independent
Artie Drechsler At Large, Chair
Ursula Papandrea Technical
Les Simonton Technical
Jennifer Ullman Independent
Emmy Vargas Athlete Rep / AAC Rep
Michael Graber At Large

7 responses to “The Politics of Weightlifting

  • Aaron

    As an ex-athlete that has been in this position before I find this “NEW” procedure to be very unfair and backwards! if you don’t live here or have the money to move your life here than you can’t have your spot! Fuck that! What are they rewarding?
    I have written to everyone on the list.
    Good luck with it all coach.

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  • anon

    I’m all for this change if they agree to give the athletes a few thousand dollars and agree to support them as full time lifters so they have less to lose by leaving their jobs…. fat chance of that happening.

  • Erik Blekeberg

    You are dead on Glenn. I wonder why the desire to change. The only way that kind of thing would work is if the weightlifters got paid! Maybe USAW can start rewarding athletes for doing well rather than making them jump through hoops for a tiny cookie.

  • Dave Lipson

    Hey Glenn, My wife Camille and I are huge fans of you guys! We are competitive CrossFitters and aspiring weightlifters. Cami is legit, she competes for Canada and just snatched 190lbs at BTW 125. I am a little behind her to say the least. My best is 280 at 210lbs. We love watching your videos and listening to your commentary. We also love how you guys combine hard work and Bro-ing out in a beautiful mixture.
    Thanks for the inspiration,
    Dave Lipson and Camille Leblanc- Bazinet

  • Eliza

    Here is one for you……picture this
    High School JR. All but ignore in 9th grade Winter Track, athlete wanted to compete in shot-put, head track coach did nothing to provide opportunity, although other high schools had athletes in shot-put competitions. This student stuck with conditioning and practices that coach put together, and student ran in a few token races.

    Next year student participated in only Spring track, because of poor experience with previous Winter track team. Student did very well in Spring track with discus and shot.

    Student has now gone above and beyond with working out with trainer, additional throwing lessons etc…. for past year.

    Student decides to go out for Winter track for junior year….and coach tells this student ” you are the best thrower we have, but you won’t be throwing at every meet, we need to let the others with less experience and ability try throwing too” in competition. At the meets, high schools are only permitted to enter 2 throwers.

    This student was given absolutely “No”
    chance to compete in 9th grade in shot-put, nor anyone else, student finds other alternatives to learn and improve in this sport and now the coach has decide that others should get a chance??????? What happened to the measurement of how far the SHOT-PUT is thrown as the determining factor as to who is in competition and not!!!!!!

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