Editorials

The State of US Weightlifting Part III

The State of US Weightlifting Part III

Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Sportivnypress.com©

The State of US weightlifting: Part 3

A year of champions” ??????????

 

The Performance of the US team in Wroclaw

If we are to believe the current administration running the sport from the headline in the online magazine “A year of Champions,” we are doing well. Their presentation of the glowing current state of affairs in this year following the Olympics, where overall participation at international competitions are down because of insufficient funds, top athletes are resting, and so forth, is just another example of bizarreness emanating from Colorado Springs.

If you allocate excessive money on travel as our officials do, you can say you are doing well by a higher (not high) team placement at international events where turnout is, relatively speaking, low. This is especially true of the Senior World Championships. At this year’s world championships the men placed eleventh and the women seventh in the team rankings.

 

As has been commonplace for many years, US athletes showed up in Poland injured or otherwise claimed to be injured. There is apparently neither a stigma nor penalty connected with showing up injured for world competitions, and, of course there is no accountability for the officials responsible for assembling the teams.

 

Our 94 kg lifter barely managed to jerk 175 kg which was only 10 kg more than a 16 year old Iranian snatched in his C session. One of our 105 kg lifters, who lifted 10 kg less in the snatch than at the 2013 Pan Ams, did not come out for the clean and jerk. One of our two +75 kg lifters managed to power snatch105 kg, the same weight 53 kg Li Yayun (CHN) lifted at the Chinese National Games in September 2013; Li even just missing 104 kg at this competition.

 

There were a total of 329 entries in Wroclaw: 196 men and 133 women. Rather than repeat or otherwise rephrase something which has already appeared and rehash the same argument, the reader is invited to peruse our evaluation of the 2005 Senior World Championships in Qatar, a few paragraphs of which are presented here.

 

From the competition report of the 2005 World chps. www.sportivnypress.com

However, the ‘administrative’ (by the respective federations) evaluation of a team’s performance where one simply looks at the team’s ranking based on points scored can be deceiving. The usual method is to simply look at the team placing. The team’s ranking is easy to determine, but it has a caveat; the teams which have the most lifters, or, in effect, are full teams (8 for men and 7 for women) have a distinct advantage over those with fewer lifters.  Typically the countries with full teams are to be found at the top of the ranking.

 

A country which enters a full team can simply “out spend” other countries and, consequently, “appear” to do better. Limited funds for travel translates into fewer lifters to enter the competition with the possibility of fewer points scored.

Weightlifting is not a team sport. No Olympic medals are awarded to the best teams. Furthermore, typically, a federation’s funding from the Olympic committee or the government is tied to the number of medals won in the Olympics or individual medals won at the world or continental championships. So, the medals tally best shows what true success is. The most objective indicator of a weightlifting team’s competitiveness is to be found in the number of medals won, not the team placing. 

 

Consider for a moment an analysis of the men’s results using the team classification and the medals results. For instance, the USA men entered 7 out of a possible 8 lifters and placed 8th in the overall team standings based on the IWF point system. This is a credible showing even despite the fact that 5 of the teams placing higher did so with fewer lifters. Furthermore, 8th place in the team results is pretty good, considering there were 52  teams entered.  However, 16 teams had only one athlete: 10 had 2, 5 – 3, and 7 – 4.  Of the 52 teams entered, only three teams had more entries (8 lifters) than the USA; the other 48 teams had less.

Now consider the truly objective measure of a team’s competitiveness, i.e. the number of medals earned. In this regard the USA’s 8th place in the team rankings becomes only 35th in the medals race. Only 14 of the 52 teams earned medals. Vietnam, Nauru (1 lifter each) and Cuba and Lithuania (2  lifters each) placed higher in the medals race than the USA. Furthermore, of the teams with only one or two lifters entered such as Iraq, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Latvia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belgium, Nauru and Vietnam, each had individual lifters who placed higher in the rankings than any US lifter.

 

Let’s look at the women’s team results. With six lifters out of a possible seven entered, the USA placed sixth in the team rankings. In this instance, as was the case with the men, of the 42 countries entered in the women’s competition 17 teams had only one lifter, 8 – 2, 8 – 3. In the medals race the women actually placed higher with a 5th place (2 medals) than in the team rankings. But the Dominican Republic also won two medals with only 2 lifters.

So, with regards to a truly objective measure of competitiveness, the USA women have better prospects than the men. However, you have to take into account that this picture could change radically when this competition takes place in a pre – Olympic year or in a more accessible location, i.e., where more lifters can attend.”

 

It is no understatement, to say the least, our prediction from the above excerpt of the 2005 WWC report turned out to be correct. The team classification from the 2007 WWC in Thailand, one year removed from the upcoming Olympics and three years removed from the 2004 Olympics, is presented in the following two tables taken from our competition report of the 2007 WWC in Thailand.

 

The men’s eighth place ranking in Qatar became 34th, and the women’s sixth dropped to eleventh in Chang Mai because, in no small part, more athletes entered this competition.

 

Failure to meet international standards means your team ranking falls as the number of entries rises.

Table 1. Classification of Men’s Teams 2007 World championships in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Team & Place

# athletes

%Snatch

Success

%C&J

Success

Overall Rate

#Lifters

3 C&J

Bomb outs

1. China

8

62.5%

46%

54%

2

1

2. Bulgaria

8

67%

58%

62.5%

1

0

3. Russia

8

58%

42%

50%

1

1

4. Belarus

8

71%

62.5%

67%

1

0

5. Cuba

8

58%

62.5%

60%

1

0

6. Poland

8

33%

42%

37.5%

2

0

34. USA

8

42%

38%

40%

0

2

Table 2. Classification of Women’s teams. 

Team & Place

#Athletes

%Snatch

%C&J

Overall rate

#lifters

Bomb outs

Success

Success

Success

3 C&J

1. China

7

81%

71%

76%

2

0

2. Russia

7

81%

48%

65%

1

1

3. Thailand

7

57%

62%

60%

3

1

4. North Korea

6

78%

50%

64%

1

0

5. Korea

7

62%

71%

67%

3

1

6. Ukraine

7

71%

48%

60%

0

0

11. USA

7

62%

71%

66.5%

3

0

This situation became déjà vu all over again at the 2009 Senior WWC in Goyang where originally C and D sessions were scheduled; eventually they were canceled because many teams or athletes stayed home from this competition. Originally this competition was designated as a qualification event for London. Subsequently, the IWF decided it would not be a qualification event, so the entries plummeted.

The  correct assertion, already of 2005, is that the medals table is the true measure of a team’s competitiveness and not the number of airline tickets issued. As 2011 Senior World Championships in Paris rolled around, the US men had earned no slots and the women were unable to pick up any more because there were 519 athletes competing.

 

This brings us to Wroclaw where there were only 292 athletes (124 Women and 168 men). With only 329 athletes entered,  the USA men placed 11th the women 7th

 

Table 3. The connection between the overall number of entries at world championships in years between Olympics and the ranking of USA teams.

Event

Year

#Athletes

USA team M

USA Team F

Medals M

Medals F

WWC

2005

281

8th

6th

35th

WWC

2006

484

23rd

9th

34th

11th

WWC

2007

580

34th

11th

35th

25th

WWC

2009

329

10th

15th

31st

27th

WWC

2011

519

31st

21st

44th

31st

WWC

2013

329

11th

7th

36th

23rd

WYC

2013

433

28th

20th

37th

21st

Abbreviations: WWC – senior world championships; WYC – world youth championships.

The figures presented in table 3 represent a graphic illustration of the true nature of the state of US weightlifting which is a clear cut pattern of USA participation at important international competitions with a higher placement with a low turnout, dramatically lower placement with high athlete turnout, and a declining competiveness in terms of meeting international standards.

For instance, when a total of 281 athletes entered the 2005 senior world championships, the USA men placed eighth. By 2006 this ranking became 23rd with 484 entries and 34th by 2007 with 580 entries. At the 2009 World championships in Goyang, suddenly, the USA “improved dramatically” to 10th place because there were only 329 entries in Korea. By the 2011 worlds in Paris, the USA men’s 10th place became 31st with 519 total entries. It is the same pattern for the women.

However, to continue to beat a dead horse, the most pertinent indicator here is the competitiveness (in effect the potential to earn slots for the Olympic Games) of both USA men and women, namely, the ranking of teams in the medals tables. It is obvious the competitiveness of the men in 2005 was low (34th place in the medals table) yet the team placed 8th because of a greater number of lifters. This same level of competitiveness of 34th and 35th in 2006 and 2007, respectively, earned a 23rd and a 35th team placing as the number of athletes competing rose from 281 – 484 – 580.

So, despite all of the USAW propaganda to the contrary, the USA simply has to lift more weight relative to the rest of the world to have any chance to field any lifters for the Olympic Games when the entries swell for the qualification events.

The reader is invited to peruse a more detailed analysis of the history of American weightlifting in the six essays “There is No System” at www.sportivnypress.com. The following quotation is from that series of essays.

(Part VI) “At the present time when the number of male entrants of the World Championships approaches 300 (3 to 4 times the participants of the 1950s), the USA is ten times further behind the lowest team placing of the 1950s (3rd in 1959) to 30th or 34th place.”

The 2013 American Open Weightlifting Championships:

$23,000.00+, Moral Depravity, Deplorable Conditions, Violations of Rule Protocols, Codes This Side of Hell and Jimmy Johns®

 

After participating in the 2013 American Open, our call (in Part 2 of the State of US weightlifting) for the USAW BOD chairman to resign and take the CEO with him and the rest of the BOD must now become a pleading; please leave and do the sport a favor.

With over 450 entries, some of whom actually specialize in weightlifting, this bloated excuse for a national competition was an insult to the athletes and their support groups who prepared for this event with many hours of hard training, personal, and financial sacrifice.

The conditions were deplorable. Warm up and competition platforms in most cases were constructed with old, warped lumber and were sub – standard; the dangerously over stuffed warm up room crammed with so many barbells, athletes, tables and chairs to accommodate three and then two competition platforms was a Lord of the Flies situation, i. e., an accident waiting to happen. The conditions of the warm up and main competition area violated any fire code this side of hell. Yet, our insurance man, the BOD (USAW Board of Directors) chairman was in charge of this abomination.

ameropen

Competition area of 2013 American open.

The USAW, whose more than 60% take of the more than $23,000.00 in entry fees collected, has spent tens of thousands of dollars over the years on electronic scoring and referee systems, yet, provided no clocks for the athletes. The referees, who had to resort to their thumbs or flags to signal a good or bad lift, were situated in such close proximity that the athletes could not expect unbiased decisions which the rule book’s electronic protocols stipulate.

To add insult to injury, the USAW let the referee’s resort to their thumbs instead of electronic switches, deprived the athletes of protocol stipulated clocks, violated the protocols stipulating the small discs 0.5 – 2.0 kg be placed on the outside of the collars; yet somehow managed to find plenty of funds  to fly in, house, and feed salaried office staff to be on hand to serve sandwiches.

Indeed our BMAWM (see part two) CEO (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/brian_cazeneuve/06/25/fencing/) whose transportation, room board, and comp salary were paid, while the rest of us paid all these expenses out of pocket, plus countess hours of preparation, could be observed serving sandwiches. Do the USOC sponsors (AT&T, BMW, Citi, Adecco, 24 Hour fitness, BP, Deloitte, The Hartford, Highmark, Devry, Chobani, Kelloggs, Nike, United Airlines, Ameritrade, USG, Liberty Mutual, Hilton HHONORS, Jet Set sports Oakley)  know how their donations and how all that money collected, ($23,000.00 plus), the USAW’s approaching $2,000,000.00 budget, is wasted?

The USAW continues to solicit donations by deluding potential donors that the money goes to the athletes. Yet, deplorable, substandard, even hazardous, violating any fire code this side of hell conditions were provided for the athletes to compete in a national competition. All the while, grinning employees shuffled around serving sandwiches. However, lest we forget our chairman’s principle contribution to the sport: the fatuous interview of the gold medal winner.

Apparently, the chairman who performs this bizarre ceremony, this vapidity, does not think anyone will wonder where all the athlete support money is; yet we have this nonsense, the gold medalist’s reward for winning a national championship? What happened to that $23,000.00+ collected just in entry fees for this competition?

Mr. BOD chairman don’t you realize it is a sign of moral depravity to waste money donated to support athletes by flying salaried people around the country to serve sandwiches? Hasn’t the USAW BOD chairman and the BOD heard that Jimmy Johns® offers “Freaky fast, free, deliveries.” Think of the savings to be had. You could have just called Jimmy Johns®  and left the CEO (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/brian_cazeneuve/06/25/fencing/)  home.

If for some reason or other it is deemed necessary to serve sandwiches to officials when all the while way too many athletes and spectators are crammed into such small, hazardous spaces as to violate any fire code this side of hell, the least you could do is call for “Freaky fast, free delivery” and dispense with the insult of paid employees who would not spend a dime of their own money to attend a weightlifting competition while serving sandwiches.  

There is a silver lining to the mess created by our BOD chairman; at least now we know two things: our CEO was hired to serve sandwiches and it is his area of expertise (http://timmorehouse.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/usa-weight-lifting-hires-michael-massik-to-be-executive-director-proving-that-anything-is-possible/)

Mr. BOD chairman, the members USAW BOD, do the honorable thing: resign. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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