With this COVID-19 thing looking like it’ll stick around for a fair while longer, disrupting comps and broader life all over the country, this may be a fantastic time for the AWF to innovate.
It might sound counterintuitive, but this could be the perfect time for the AWF to really shake up the way they run competitions.
We are, of course, talking about online weightlifting competitions.
Other sports have been running online competitions for years — it’s even been happening in weightlifting in countries like the USA. The USA uses online comps as a way to ensure athletes are on track for major competitions, and for athletes to earn their spots on the team.
Although it’s unprecedented here, the AWF may be able to use some type of online competition to ensure the safety of their athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. If they permitted athletes to qualify for National Champs via online delivery, this would dramatically improve the sport’s accessibility — especially at this time.
Yes, this is unprecedented. Yes, it is unusual. But so are the circumstances forced upon us this year. The AWF and state associations could just roll over and cancel all weightlifting in 2020, or they could seize the moment, use these extraordinary times to find extraordinary possibilities and revolutionise the Australian weightlifting landscape.
Can this happen?
Well, thankfully, other sports have already done a lot of the heavy lifting (pardon the pun) here. It definitely can be done if the right people are working on it with an open mind.
There are so many great things that could come out of an online comp. For example, bulk entry fees, which would beef up the AWF’s bank balance to ensure they can continue to support our Australian athletes.
Sponsorship opportunities would flourish — a strong online presence is exactly what companies look for these days.
The ease of access online comps provide would give us a true representation of how many weightlifters (and weightlifting-curious) athletes we have in Australia — with the stigma of live competition gone, budding lifters would start to put their hands up more and more.
And, lastly, it would appeal to new athletes from other sports, many of whom would be familiar and comfortable with competing online.
At The Weightlifting Platform, we predict the move to online could generate the biggest intake of members ever in AWF history, if it were done decisively and rigorously.
OK, but will this happen?
Admittedly, it’s a long shot. It would take some big changes and a new way of thinking from the people at the top. But it is what’s desperately needed to help grow Australian weightlifting — now, in these troubled times, and into the future.