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What is the AWF doing?

by theweightliftingplatform

In case you missed it in all the end-of-year hustle a bustle, the Australian Weightlifting Federation released its 2021 calendar and standards last week. Here’s what you need to know…

Nothing has changed!

Don’t get us wrong — it’s nice to have some stability around the standards two years in a row. But after the bizarre year we’ve just had, including the disruption caused to athletes’ training, was this really the right time for the AWF to stick to the plan?

It looks as though the AWF is still pushing the Elite side of the sport, which is fantastic for the top end but you can”t help but feel that the grassroots competition has been looked over — yet again. 

At the beginning of 2020, the standards for both the male and female National competitions were raised D grade. Many coaches, clubs, athletes and fans spoke out, and the AWF dropped female National standards to E grade. 

It was great to see that the AWF cared enough about its own members’ thoughts to abandon the planned standards increase.

But it looks as though this lesson has been forgotten. For 2021, both male and female standards sit at D grade. This is probably even less realistic for 2021, given the chaos of 2020. And if the AWF doesnt realise this, do its administrators truly have their finger on the pulse of weightlifting in Australia?

We can be sure that the weightlifting population want to see a big event for nationals, lots of lifters, lots of opportunity, not an event where the one 49kg lifter is thrown in with the 71kg lifters to fill a sessions. It’s just not the same feel.

Accounting for COVID

We won’t pretend to know exactly what is going on within the AWF, but from the outside looking in, you’d have to assume the AWF, like most organisations, took a financial hit in 2020. So the question has to be asked, would lowering the standards, purely for financial reasons, not be a good idea? More people in comps means more money for the AWF, right?

All the athletes, coaches and gym owners we have talked to about this were certain that the AWF would see reason and drop the 2021 standards to account for this horror year.

States like Victoria were highly affected by COVID-19 and gyms were closed for the better part of eight months. Training was altered due the lack of home equipment and, in a lot of cases, stopped all together. 

Nationals is undoubtedly the flagship event, the pinnacle of the domestic sport, but would more people competing be such a bad thing?

There’s a huge question mark over the Australian Open. Will it be a larger participation event like years past or will they keep the standard high and have a low turnout like 2020?

In our interview with AWF CEO Ian Moir earlier this year about the Australian Open, he said “we couldn’t reconcile the difference then of a mass participation, yet it being a Tokyo qualifying event. So the 2020 Open is a little bit different, with the standards a bit higher. [In] 2021, certainly the Australian Open will be more accessible to a lot more lifters.” link to this article here

So, with this in mind —and hopefully the Tokyo Olympics behind us — we’re expecting a large participation event in September.

There are some small additions to the calendar with the AWF squads now with a place.

Elite squad — Elite grade

AWF Super Squad — A grade

AWF Junior Squad — D grade

AWF Youth Squad — G grade

It’s great to see squads being developed and incentives being offered out to ensure the elite athletes of our sport stay in our sport. This creates a direct pathway for younger lifters, and helps them see exactly what they need to do to stay on track to perform on the world stage. Sometimes the only incentive lifters need though is a realistic standard and being able comp.

The first national, in-person competition will be the Junior & Under 23 Champs in Perth. If all goes well, this will be a must-watch gathering of Australia’s next weightlifting stars.  

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