We have all now likely seen the 2020 event calendar and qualifying criteria. Undoubtedly the reaction hasn’t been positive to the changes and increase of standards heading into 2020.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Ian Moir, the CEO of AWF to discuss these changes.
These changes were made by the high-performance commission with the aim to further push Australian athletes towards higher levels in the sport.
“There was an agreement within the high-performance group that youth standards were set possibly a bit low and that our youth lifters can do better and to give them better targets to aim for….. So the first thing decided was that the youth standards can go up a level.” Explains Ian.
This is regarding international competitions. The Youth Nationals will be staying the same.
In past years the female’s senior national standards have always been one grade below the males.
Ian Moir touched on this by saying “is that appropriate? Should there only be one line (grading) for each event and each age group? And they (AWF) came to the conclusion that, Yes, it should be the same for both men and women and it should be set a little bit higher. It’s all about setting those standards as targets our athletes should strive to achieve. If the standards remain the same there’s the risk of getting the same result.”
The new standards were worked out by using data from the past two world champs (with the newer body weight divisions) and other international competition. This is what would have resulted in the lack of domestic athletes seeing it as a legitimate target.
When asked “are you worried about participation levels for next year’s national event?”
Ian replied, “there was some work done and a standard set for the national senior championships and then there was a discussion at the AGM around that and having all the states except one represented in the room, there was an expression from all the states represented there to put these standards up.”
“The Australian Senior Championships is our premier event, it’s our flagship, it’s the pinnacle of our domestic competition program and let’s get the best of the best there”
It all sounds as though the AWF is pushing towards a high level of performance and prestige at these events and not too worried about participation levels.
There are two ways this could go:
- The Australian Weightlifting community will embrace these changes and it will push Australia higher up the world rankings
- Or, Australian weightlifting will be set back another couple of years due to reduced participation levels
Personally, we’re hoping it is the former but that is going to take a lot of work from around Australia to make it happen.
If/when the participation at National level drops next year. A couple of questions will arise.
- How much does the reduction of athletes paying to enter these events impact not only the event itself but the AWF funding and resources which they have recently moved towards funding our high-performance teams?
- What other pathways will the AWF open up to develop athletes and bridge the gap?
Ian goes on to say “we know if you raise the bar (pardon the pun) a little bit higher, athletes can do it. They can strive and they can achieve and that’s what we are all about in terms of high performance. Setting those targets and moving them up a bit, and hope people don’t look at it and think oh well, that’s me done, I can’t do that. What we are hoping is that they will look at it and think that there’s the challenge.”
This is the big takeaway from all of this. The AWF have set these standards hoping that it raises the level of weightlifting in Australia and now we as a weightlifting community need to work hard to make sure these changes are as positive as possible. How we do that, comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
More on the Australian Open to come in the next couple days.