Revised Qualification Procedures: 2014 American Open and All 2015 National Events

Aug. 13, 2014, 11:06 a.m. (ET)

UPDATED August 25, 2014

Response from the Board of Directors on issues pertaining to the American Open

We want to thank our membership for their responses pro and con, and suggestions, regarding the conduct of the 2014 American Open (AO).  While we are deeply sorry about having to change the qualifying procedures, we did believe earlier this year that raising the qualifying totals used at last year’s AO would be enough to control the entries to this year’s event.  However, after having nearly as many entries at this year’s Nationals as we did at last year’s AO, even though the totals for the Nationals were higher than the increased totals which had been established for the 2014 AO, we realized that the 2014 AO totals announced earlier this year would not result in a manageable number of competitors.

We believe that we must limit total entries to approximately 400 in order to conduct the AO competition across three days, even with a two platform format.  Therefore, we believe that we need to maintain the fundamentals of qualifying procedures outlined described in our announcement of changes regarding the 2014 AO that were published on August 13, 2014.

However, we are pleased to announce that we can and will address the most frequent objection to the changes that have been made, by permitting a significantly later qualification and entry deadline.  But we’ll need everyone’s cooperation to make that work.  First, we will extend the qualifying period deadline from the early October date published on the entry form to Sunday, November 2.  Therefore, the traditional first week in November timing of many qualifying competitions can be preserved.

However, in order to publish the list of the athletes whose entries have been accepted five weeks before the date the competition begins, we will require that entries be received no later than November 4 (48 hours after the end of the qualifying period).  In addition, we will require that meet directors running qualifying competitions during the first weekend in November, (or competitions the week before the deadline) submit the results of their competitions no later than November 4, the same day entries are due.  Then, we can work on the results received for the balance of the week, with the goal of informing those who have entered whether their entries have been accepted by November 6, five weeks before the competition commences.

While we recognize that these changes do not address all of the concerns regarding the new qualifying procedures for the 2014 AO, they do address the single most common concern raised, and in so doing, respect the wishes of meet directors who have already scheduled competitions for early November 2014, and the athletes who planned on competing at that time.  Any meet director who has already filed a sanction for a meet in the first half of November  2014 will be permitted to reschedule for the first weekend in November, or earlier.

For any further questions and/or concerns about this latest announcement, please direct your questions to phil.andrews@usaweightlifting.org

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We have received questions regarding the Revised Qualification Procedures for the 2014 American Open and all 2015 National Events document that was published yesterday and have attempted to edit the document for clarification below. The following changes have been made in the updated document:

  1. Minor typographical errors have been corrected
  2. On page 2, the highlighted portion of the following sentence has been added for clarification

a.      Finally, 10 spots have been allocated for foreign athletes who are not USAW members as of today, but who will be members of the USAW by the day entries close and who have made the CN totals in USAW or international competitions during the qualifying period specified on the 2014 AO entry

Revised Qualification Procedures for the 2014 American Open

and All 2015 National Events (updated 8/15/2014)

Over the past year, the USAW has experienced truly extraordinary increases in the number of athletes qualifying for its national events, to the point where we are in danger of exceeding our capacity to conduct a national event appropriately, within a three day event structure.  Consequently, the numbers of participants at our national events needs to be brought under control.  By doing that, we can assure the kind of high quality experience which befits those who earn the honor of competing at a national level.  In order to accomplish this, we will be making some essential and important changes in our qualifying procedures going forward.  Because of the proximity of our next major open national event - the American Open, the changes in the qualifying approach for that event will be relatively modest.  However, the changes in our qualifying procedures for our 2015 national events will be much more significant and fundamental.

An “Embarrassment of Riches” Creates a National Event Crisis in the USAW

Over the past two years, the USAW has enjoyed an unprecedented growth in its membership, from under 8,000 in 2012 to more than 16,000 as of July 2014.  Needless to say, we are thrilled with this development and hope that our growth will continue at a rapid rate, as more and more athletes discover the challenge and thrill of competing in Olympic-style weightlifting.

But with our unprecedented and welcomed growth, we have seen an unexpectedly precipitous increase in the number of athletes competing at our national level events.  A gap between membership growth and national event qualification is the norm, since it generally takes time for new members to achieve the national level.  But, we have experienced a rate of growth in athletes qualifying for national events that is almost exactly equal to our overall membership growth.  For instance, we had approximately 200 athletes at a 2012 National Championships, but more than 400 athletes at our recent 2014 National Championships.

We have learned through this experience that we are unable to run a national event over a three day period with many more than 200 athletes, on one platform.  We can handle roughly twice that many with two platforms, but two platform events preclude our being able to:  staff a jury to oversee the performances of our officials, provide all the equipment needed to run the very highest quality event, broadcast our events over the Internet optimally, and assure that coaches can fully attend to their athletes during the competition (e.g., not being torn between the need to serve athletes competing on different platforms at the same time).  But most importantly, only a one platform event assures athletes that they can lift without distraction from the events taking place on another platform, and with the full attention of the audience that they so fully deserve.  Therefore, we will be establishing qualifying procedures for 2015 that will assure the use of a single platform (which is the international standard) at all of our national events (with the exception of the Youth Nationals, where two platforms have long been a tradition).

Revised Qualifying Procedures for the 2014 American Open (AO) Only

Since the 2014 AO is fast approaching, we will make a relatively modest change to our qualifying procedures for that event - limiting our entries to approximately 400 (the maximum we can reasonably handle in a three day event with two platforms, given our current resources.  In order to accomplish this in the fairest way possible, we will take the following steps:

1)      We will close entries to the AO on or about October 1, 2014,

2)      We will accept applications from (but not guarantee participation to) all athletes who made the AO qualifying totals published earlier this year,

3)      We will automatically declare as officially entered the athletes with the top 15 totals in each body weight category (if 15 or more athletes submitting applications make the qualifying total for that body weight category),

4)      For the remaining spots in this event, up to a total of 365 (including those described in 3 above), athletes will be ranked and declared as entered  on the basis of the percentage by which their qualifying totals exceed the already published AO qualifying totals in their respective bodyweight categories (see table below):

Women

 

Men

 

Bodyweight Category

AO Qualifying Total

Bodyweight Category

AO Qualifying Total

48

101

56

153

53

123

62

184

58

135

69

219

63

149

77

250

69

152

85

269

75

158

94

277

75+

166

105

293

105+

296

For example, if Sally Jones enters the 58 kg body weight category of the American Open with a total of 149 kg., her total is 111.11% of the qualifying total in her category.  She would outrank Mary Powers, who has entered the 69 kg category of the total of 167 kg., since her total is 109.87% of the qualifying total in her category.

There will be a total of 365 spots awarded on this basis of criteria 3 and 4 above, 170 for the women and 195 for the men (the men having more slots because they have eight bodily categories versus seven for the women).  In addition to the 365, there will be up to 30 slots available for athletes who cannot make the qualifying total for the AO, but who need to try out for an upcoming international event (e.g., athletes age 17 and under who might need to qualify for the Youth World Championship Team).  Finally, 10 spots have been allocated for foreign athletes who are not USAW members as of today, but who will be members of the USAW by the day entries close and who have made the CN totals in USAW or international competitions during the qualifying period specified on the 2014 AO entry (AO has traditionally been open to USAW member athletes who are not citizens and such athletes will continue to be eligible, but the aforementioned 10 spots are reserved for foreign athletes who are not presently USAW members.). If either the number of trials athletes, or the foreign athletes who are not members as of the date this document is published, are not filled, those slots will be added to the pool for the athletes who are not ranked in the top 15 (if there are less than 15 entrants in a given bodyweight category, those spots will be added to the pool of available spots for that gender as well).

Athletes whose entries are accepted on the basis of the above procedures will be informed at least 6 weeks prior to the first day of the AO.  As an event nears, the USAW will regularly post on its website the total of the highest ranking athletes in each category, so that those who plan to apply for the event can get a sense of where they stand at that time.

We deeply regret having to make these changes to our qualifying procedures for the American Open on such short notice, but we simply do not have the resources to handle a three day/two platform event with more than approximately 400 athletes, so we must “cap” our entries (in the absence of these changes, we believe our entries could have reached 500 or more athletes – much more than we have the resources to handle in a three day event).

Controlling the Size of Our National Events Going Forward Into 2015 And Beyond

After receiving feedback from our athletes, coaches and officials regarding the “super-sized” events that emerged in late 2013 and continued through the 2014 Nationals, and after much deliberation, the USAW has decided to introduce a new qualifying method for all national events, with some special features for the 2015 Youth Nationals and American Open in 2015 (more about these events later).

The Nationals, the Junior Nationals and the University Nationals will all be run using one platform and will be limited to a total of approximately 225 athletes, up to 30 of which may be allocated to athletes who are participating in special trials sessions for international teams, as needed.  That will mean there will be approximately 104 spots for the men and 91 for the women at each of these events (excluding the aforementioned trials slots - if there are no such trials, the number of spots will grow to 120 for the men and 105 for the women).

There will be a minimum qualification standard (total) for each of these events, tied to the USAW Athlete Classification System.  The level for the Nationals will be Local Level 2.  Both the Junior Nationals and the University Nationals will use the Junior Local Level 2 totals.  The totals used for the 2015 Junior Nationals will be the classification totals in place as of July of 2014, but the totals for the 2015 Nationals and University Nationals will be the Classification System totals as revised after the close of the 2014 World Championships (see totals below as of July of 2014):

Women

Men

Bodyweight Category

Candidate National Total

Local Level 2 Total

Bodyweight Category

Candidate National Total

Local Level 2 Total

48

145

126

56

210

182

53

158

137

62

236

204

58

169

147

69

248

216

63

182

157

77

268

232

69

190

165

85

284

246

75

204

177

94

298

258

75+

219

190

105

305

264

105+

327

283

Those who make the Level 2 Local totals by the deadlines set for each national event, on their respective entry forms, will be invited to make an entry application, and the applications actually accepted as entries will be determined as follows:

1)      All athletes whose totals made in USAW sanctioned competitions equal or exceed the Candidate National totals within the qualifying period designated for that event will be automatically accepted, with no limit per bodyweight category.  We recognize these are challenging totals that only a limited number of athletes can achieve, but we want to assure that our very best athletes are guaranteed entry to our national events.  We also want to assure that we have at least a minimum number of athletes in each bodyweight category, therefore,

2)     The athletes with the seven highest totals in each bodyweight category will also be accepted as entered, regardless of whether or not they achieve that Candidate National total.  Once entries from those who have achieved the Candidate National totals and/or are among the top seven highest totals submitted in a particular bodyweight category, in addition,

3)     We will fill the balance of the available slots with the athletes who have submitted the highest entry totals relative to the Candidate National total, in all of the bodyweight categories for a given gender combined.  So for example, if John Jones totals 231 in the 62 kg. category, he will have achieved 97.88% of the Candidate National total.  His entry will be accepted over Bill Strong, whose total of 273 kg. in the 85 kg. category was 96.13% of the Candidate National total is his category.  In this way, we will assure that the athletes closest to the Candidate National level will have an opportunity to compete, regardless of their bodyweight categories.

For the Junior Nationals and University Nationals, the same approach that is described above for the Nationals will be used, except that the Junior Candidate National and Junior Local Level 2 totals would be used for the qualifying criteria (these are approximately 10% lower than the senior totals).

The Special Case of The Youth Nationals

We have historically used two platforms for Youth Nationals (YN) events to encourage participation by our youngest athletes, and because there are multiple age groups competing at the same event. For the YN, we will target approximately 400 athletes (there are generally no tryouts associated with these events, but if it were necessary to include such a separate event, we would target 370 Youth age athletes to permit up to 30 trials event athletes to participate).

Since there are three age groups at the YN (16&17, 14&15 and 13 and under) we would target 135 qualifying athletes for each age group.  This breaks down to approximately 72 men and 63 women per age group.  Totals for the Youth Candidate National and Youth Local Level 2 would be used in a way similar to that of other national events for the athletes in the 16&17 age category (these totals are approximately 20% lower than the totals for the senior athletes).  However, because of the smaller number of competitors per age group than for other multiple age group national events; there would be relatively fewer non-Candidate National/top seven slots available.  But, the available spots would be filled in the same way as for other national events (percentage Candidate National totals across all bodyweight categories for a specific gender).

For the 14 and 15-year-old and 13 and under groups, we would follow a similar process to what we’ll do for the 16-/17 year old athletes, except we’ll create proxy Candidate National totals using the results of the 2014 Youth Nationals by age category (no Candidate National totals exist for the younger age groups today).  This process would consist of two steps. First, we would calculate the average total for the top five places in all men’s categories and (separately) all women’s categories for the 16&17 year olds (if some category had less than five totals, we assume a fifth total 1 kg. less than the 4th place total).  Then, we would do the same for the 14-15 year old and, separately, for the 13 and under athletes.  So of the average total among the 14-15 year olds was 20% lower than those for the 16-17 year olds, the totals for the 14-15 year olds would be 20% lower (in comparable bodyweight categories).

Second, we would extrapolate/interpolate (as appropriate) totals for bodyweight categories that didn’t match those of the 16&17 year olds.  For instance, for the 44 kg category in the 14-15 year old category (which doesn’t exist among the 16-17 year olds), we would take the average total for the top five athletes at the 2014 YN and compare it to the total for the top five in the 48 kg. category for the 14-15 year old women. If the 44kg. category lifters had an average total of 90% of those in the 48kg. category, the proxy Candidate National total would be 90% of the total for the 48kg. category. 

Tie Breakers

In any instance in which two or more athletes were tied in their totals to qualify for a spot in their body weight category, or had the same percentage total carried out to a hundredth of a percent (e.g., two athletes had percentages of 99.22%), the tie would be broken first in favor of the athletes who made the total at a national event.  If both totals were made at a national event, or both totals were made at a local event, and the totals were made at the same event, the athlete making to total first would be given precedence.  If the same totals were made at different days at local or national events, the total made on the earlier day would out rank the total made on a later day.  If the totals were made on the same day but at different events (regardless of time of day) the totals would be considered tied and the athletes making those totals would be treated in the same way (e.g., if they were tied for 7th in their bodyweight category, both would be treated as being in the top 7).

2015 American Open

The AO for 2015 would use a similar qualifying procedure to the Nationals, except that after those athletes who made to Candidate National totals and/or ranked in the top seven in a bodyweight category were accepted as entered, the remaining spots would first be filled with the champions of any Regional Championship Event recognized by the USAW as such (it is expected that as many as five regions could be established by July 1 of 2015).  This would comprise a total of as many as 75 additional athletes, but it is believed that the number would be lower because at least some of those who qualified by winning the regional championships would also be among  those who made Candidate National totals and/or ranked in the top seven their bodyweight categories.  After the Candidate National, top seven and regional champion spots have been filled, any remaining spots will be filled on percentage rankings relative to the Candidate National totals, regardless of the bodyweight category, within a gender.

Conclusion

We recognize that these qualifying procedures represent a significant change from our past practice of setting fixed totals months in advance of our national events, based on estimates of entry numbers, but as we have learned, our ability to predict entry numbers in advance in an environment of growth is not sustainable.  We think the new qualifying approach does an effective job of combining a total (admittedly challenging) that guarantees entry, a guaranteed number of athletes in each category, and the greatest number of our other highest ranked athletes regardless of category. We look forward to trying out this new system in 2015. The chart on the next page summarizes the qualifying approaches that will be used for the 2014 AO and national events held in 2015.

           Step 1                              Step 2                                 Step 3                              Step 4

Minimum Standards        First Selected Group         Second Selected Group           Reserved Slots

 2014 American Open

Applications accepted from athletes who reach the qualifying total (QT)

Top 15 in each bodyweight category from prior step are entered

Balance of applications from athletes who exceed the QT for their categories are selected on the basis of highest percentage of the QT, (up to 195 men and 170 women) are entered

Up to an additional 10 foreign athletes and 30 trials athletes (any unused spots go pro-rata back to 195 men’s, and 170 women’s slots from prior step)

2015 Nationals (& JN & UN, age adjusted)

Applications accepted from  athletes who reach the minimum total (Local Level 2)

Those who make CN total and/or are in the top 7 in their bodyweight categories are entered

Balance of applications from athletes who come closest to the CN totals in their respective categories ( up to 104 men & 91 women)

Up to an additional 30 trials athletes (any unused spots go pro-rata back to men’s and women’s slots from prior step)

2015 Youth Nationals

Applications accepted from athletes who reach the minimum total (Local Level 2, age and unmatched category adjusted)

Those who make the age adjusted CN total and/or are in the top 7 in their bodyweight categories are entered

Balance of applications from athletes who come closest to the CN totals in their respective categories ( up to 72 men & 63 women)

Up to an additional 30 trials athletes (any unused spots go pro-rata back to expand the men’s and  women’s slots from prior step)

2015 American Open

Applications accepted from athletes who reach the minimum total (Local Level 2)

Those who make the CN total and/or are in the top 7 in their bodyweight categories and/or win their regional championships (if any) are entered

Balance of applications from athletes who come closest to the CN totals in their respective categories ( up to 104 men & 91 women)

Up to an additional 10 foreign athletes and up to an additional 30 trials athletes (any unused spots go pro-rata back to expand the men’s and  women’s slots from prior step)