The Arnold Sports Festival held the Pan American Trials session in Columbus, Ohio on March 2, 2018. These sessions helped to determine possible qualifiers for the Senior Pan American team.
There was some very impressive lifting during the Pan American sessions, particularly the women’s session, and there was also some controversy. At the center of this controversy is a young woman named Quiana Welsh.
Welch smashed her first two snatch attempts, setting her up for a big attempt at 109 kilos. For those that don’t remember numbers as well, this 109k snatch would have placed second overall in the snatch portion of the World Championships held in Anaheim in December. Remember, she made her first two attempts without any judge interfering with the call. She took 109k DOWN!!! She killed it. From my perspective the lift was legit technically, no pressouts, it was a good lift. Then the lift got turned down. Why? The head judge informed her coach that the lift was turned down due to her outfit. Really? Well, that seems quite odd. Her teammate, Alyssa Ritchey had a similar outfit on and none of her lifts were overturned. On top of that, Welch’s first two lifts were not turned down due to her outfit. Add in the fact that the judges had seen both of their outfits before introductions and did not mention anything about them being illegal. It was a wild change of events. One of the best snatches on the year being turned down due to a uniform that seemed to be legal while someone else in the same session wore the EXACT same style uniform did not get their lifts turned down.
I wanted to investigate this issue a bit...a little bit out of curiosity and a little out of a strictly educational purpose.
Based off the rule book the judges should be using, rule 4.2.1 states “Athletes must wear only one weightlifting costume which complies with the following criteria:
- Must be one piece (her costume was one piece)
- Must be collarless (same)
- May be of any color
- Must not cover the elbows (her one piece did not cover the elbows)
- Must not cover the knees (it did not)
Now, head to section 4.7.1 to read the following part regarding a second portion of the athlete’s outfit.
Only one unitard may be worn UNDER the costume. The unitard must comply with the following criteria:
- Be one piece or two pieces (hers was one I believe)
- Be tight fitting (it was)
- Be collarless (ok)
- May cover both elbows and or knees (covered her elbows, that was their reason but clearly this is deemed legal by the standards in the rule book)
- May be of any one color
Above is a singlet worn at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, deemed legal by the IWF.
I believe based off of these rules, the uniform seemed to be of legal stature. The judges gave her first two lifts, then denied her third lift due to the uniform that was legal. Even if the uniform was illegal, why would they have given her the first two lifts and Alyssa Ritchey her lifts? If the uniforms were indeed illegal, then they should have been informed immediately after their first lift at the very least. I believe they actually should have been informed during introductions when they were lined up at the bottom of the steps.
There is some confusion concerning the recent changes to the uniform rule. In order for coaches and athletes to be clear on this rule it is the duty of the officials to make a determination on this rule in a way that consistent from one athlete to another. It is also unfair for this determination to have been made in a way that robbed this athlete of a legitimate performance. If the athlete was breaking a rule the officials missed several opportunities to communicate this error. We are all here to celebrate outstanding performances.
Above is an example of the uniform worn by Quiana Welch, deemed illegal by the judges at the 2018 Pan Am trials competition.
Above is an example of the uniform worn by Alyssa Ritchey.
Here is a link to Quiana’s 109k Snatch. Do you think she deserved to make this lift?
If you missed part 1: Arnold Recap and Criticism