Last week USA Weightlifting flew myself and two other coaches out to the Olympic Training Center. My group was the first group of the coaches summit, so of course we kicked off the summit with a bang!!! To start, there really wasn’t a set agenda communicated to discuss what the goals were of my visit. I was slightly confused, not sure what to expect from my travels and not sure where the discussions were even going to be headed. What would CEO Phil Andrews have to say to me? Was high performance director, Mike Gattone going to tell me I suck as a coach and need to step my work up? Would four time Olympic medalist Pyrros Dimas tell me I had no clue what I was doing from a technical perspective? I didn’t know what to expect!!!
Well, fortunately I was blown away by the two days of meetings. Right off the bat it was made quite clear that the purpose of this coaches summit was to improve communication on all fronts. Lance Williams and Mike Gattone clarified that the days would be packed with administrative discussion as well as programming and technical clarifications provided by Pyrros Dimas. Lorene Halford was in the background (mocking us for smelling bad) and always chiming in with the exact location to find any questions that we may have!
The first big news was to discuss the IWF proposed change of weight classes, where they may potentially be and how the IWF has changed qualifying for the Olympics. USA Weightlifting has minimal impact on the IWF and their decision making process (I say that while seeing CEO Phil Andrews becoming more and more powerful within the IWF). So what is the possible IWF plan? I will try to lay it out as simply as possible:
- Weight classes will be increased to ten new weight classes per gender
- They will be active in July of 2018
- There will be 7 weight classes during the Olympic year
- The records will be brand new
- The first proposed meet for the new weight classes in the US will be AO2 in Valley Forge
- Qualifying for the senior world team this year will be similar to the standard used for the 90k weight class this year at Worlds
What does this mean for qualification standards to get into the Olympics? There will be 4 spots per gender for the Olympic team. The spots will be qualified through a weighted scoring process. The weighted scoring will come from continental championships (Asian Games, Pan Ams, Europeans, African Champs, etc..), Grand Prix meets and World championship placings. Each meet will have a scoring system based off the results and those points will add up to a total for each athlete and their result. The individual must compete in a minimum of 3 scored competitions (drug testing) and their total scores added up MUST put them in the top 14 ranked athletes in the world to be eligible for the Olympics.
Back to USA Weightlifting. Each day started with a LONG teleconference with Dimas. Multiple hours of him explaining the technical goals of all the movements, the goals we should have for assistant movements such as squats and pulls and even some recommendations for peculiar movements an athlete may have in their technique. Dimas is an incredible tool for USA Weightlifting and he is being used very well. He was very open to my 193 questions and was willing to even deal with me demonstrating positions and help walk through trouble areas and what we as coaches can do to improve those areas! If we can all, as coaches, be on the same path with like minded goals, we will continue to grow as a country into one of the most dominating forces in the world of weightlifting!!!
Finally, we got to stipends, money and USA Weightlifting projects. Each age group (Youth, Juniors and Seniors) have their own set amount of lifters that will be financially subsidized. The rankings are set on the website (Appendix A I believe, Lorene was screaming at me for not fully paying attention) and it lays out the qualification meets and periods during which those totals will uphold for payment. Generally speaking, each qualified total will last for 6 months of stipend payments following the original posted total. This is where I also had about 200 questions and Lorene and Lance answered all of them explicitly based off the written documents. At the end of the day, USA Weightlifting gives out more finances than any other National Governing Body, and this is something that is HUGE for the national development of our sport.
Communication is key in any relationship. USA Weightlifting flew us out there to communicate expectations and to answer any questions we could possibly have for the group. They want to continue developing relationships with the coaches and they fully expect that WE will continue to communicate these expectations to our own athletes to keep everyone well informed and ahead of the curve internationally. I am extremely excited for this quad and look forward to seeing the future processes develop from USA Weightlifting.