Pan Ams Part I: Pan Am Criticism
Hayley Reichardt just returned from the Dominican Republic, where she competed in the IWF Senior Pan American Championships. Hayley hit a 71K snatch and 95K clean and jerk for fourth in the clean and jerk and 8th overall. This is part one of a series of reactions to the meet by Dane. See Part Two here
It is very difficult to approach this meet with high expectations and impressive results. Basically, every athlete involved with the competition should not be focused on this meet as their priority for the yearly block of training. Just about everyone should be focused long term preparation for Junior Worlds or Senior Worlds. On top of those factors, it is very well known that Pan Am competitions are poorly managed, hot, not the greatest living conditions, and generally a poorly executed competition which makes it very difficult to set up for a strong peak.
This competition was not much different. The competition hotel was a steamy 45 minute bus ride from the venue, escorted by armed guards. Part of being in the Pan Am requires all teams to be quartered in the same hotel. So every session for training, viewing and competing required a 45 minute road trip through Santo Domingo.
The training hall and competition venue were both in open buildings, sitting around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, the venue was incredible, one of the coolest weightlifting venues I have been in for a competition. The food in the hotel was surprisingly decent, probably the best I have had on these international trips and the coffee was to die for!
The downfalls can be found in the VERY poor communication that the Pan Am Federation notoriously upholds. Changes in weigh in venue for the 62k class were not communicated, the 48k class had their weigh in pushed back 30 mins because of a regular power outage and a lack of batteries in the scale. The training hall had two scales calibrated differently, and the saunas failed to work on a consistent basis and buses regularly showed up late for transportation. Fortunately, USAW put a huge effort forward to accommodate our athletes and make the transition as simple as possible
Virtually every request from coaches and athletes was met with open arms. Steve Valvan (Mayor of the meet) was our team leader, tracking down clean water, credentials, food, hotels for nicer stays, functioning saunas and organizing travel with the help of Lorene Halford who was incredibly responsive and helpful with every request or text message from athletes or coaches. Having Steve on our side as a Spanish speaking resource made it seem absolutely imperative to include a fluent speaker on all future trips within Pan Ams
USAW also set up a nicer hotel accommodation the night before competing that was a lot closer to the venue and enabled the athletes to ride in a much more comfortable van to weigh ins. They also provided a nutritionist and cook for making their own style of food, needed especially after weigh-ins. They even bought a sweet waffle iron after I requested this to make Hayley EFM primitive waffles for post weigh-in consumption.
Although the organizing committee was very cluttered and disorganized, USAW did an excellent job to maintain a more comfortable experience. Mike Gattone had analytics for attempts, Pyrros Dimas even held technical discussions with training advice after competition concluded. A few things can certainly continue to be improved upon, but the overall efforts from USAW were impressive.