August 3, 2020

Happy August Members,

 As we write, we ought to have been at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. This year has of course thrown up its major challenges for all of us, and it brings into stark focus though perhaps all of the items that have just gone astray during these last 6 months or so in the Covid-19 worldwide crisis. While the first thought specifically to the Games, of course, goes to the athletes who ought to be performing in Tokyo just now as well as the donors who made Tokyo Strong possible and the coaches and support teams who ought to be in Tokyo supporting those athletes, I hope you and yours are keeping as well as you possibly can.
 
With no events occurring in July, it is, once again, a challenge to review how Team USA is doing. With that said, Mattie Sasser did take part in the Pan American Online Cup, which was a non-IWF event (in other words, a “friendly” – a bit like a pre-season game in Hockey or Football) and did well, taking Gold in the Snatch and Silver in both the Clean & Jerk and Total to her longstanding rival, Colombia’s Mercedes Perez.
 
We will see other online competitions around the world, with another already planned in the Pan American region, while Uzbekistan is also planning to host an online competition celebrating Uzbek independence day!
 
Unfortunately, August brought the regretful announcement that we had to move the Las Vegas American Open Series 3 to a virtual format, with further restrictions placed upon travel to and from the State of Nevada, combined with Las Vegas moving back to Phase 1 of re-opening, we reached a critical point where there would unlikely be enough Technical Officials to run the competition. USA Weightlifting very much wants to return to in-person competition and of course, there has been local level small competitions compliant with USA Weightlifting’s back-to-lifting guidelines that have occurred. A moment to thank those meet directors who take on the additional work, and cost, to make that work.
 
At this time, we see the December event in Atlanta going ahead, of course, we cannot make any guarantees, but we are working forward on the basis the event will be able to go ahead in some 4 months time as planned.
 
Away from the platform, USA Weightlifting in collaboration with the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee, hosted our strategic planning meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some attended in person, while others attended via videoconference in a somewhat unique hybrid. This time provided us an opportunity to look back over the significant and exciting changes that have been made in USA Weightlifting in the last four years on and off of the field of play including our stipend system moving from $1000 in total athlete stipends in 2010 to just a shade short of $1,000,000 now, the implementation of athlete mental health programs, the almost doubling of the revenue and the significant growth in our sport, as well as of course our sporting achievements. I’d like to take a moment to thank our athletes, coaches, membership, board of directors, committees, and staff (past and present) for the significant contributions made to those achievements. We took a look ahead to the challenges that the next four years are likely to bring which are somewhat different to perhaps these last four years. It will take a few weeks for the strategic plan to reach a final format, but as soon as it does we will share it with the full membership.
 
As I’ve already shared with our Board of Directors and Finance Committee, we will have to expect an exceedingly tough 2021 financially, more so than in 2020. Unlike the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee unfortunately we do not see a large amount of funding from the Olympic Games, rather the opposite we will spend money on the Olympic Games due to the lack of funding from the USOPC for our sport. In addition, we will need to keep our commitments to athletes and coaches for funding for stipends, World Championships, Olympic Qualification and so on, most of which will be a double up from the previous year. We publish quarterly financial updates so members can see how we are doing.
 
We’ve also engaged in a significant amount of fundraising activity in the last month, which continues into early August. We are raising money on behalf of our member clubs in partnership with Snap Raise, so far over $32,000 is headed directly to our member clubs and we hope that will grow in the coming week or so left of the campaign. We are also participating in the Giving Games, which is a 24-NGB effort to raise money for each Team USA to help fund next year. You can give to each here: Club Fundraiser, Giving Games. For the Giving Games, medals are on the line for those who give the most. 
 
August 1 marked the opening of nominations for our Board of Directors for the 2020-2024 term. Typically our Board is elected in 50% increments, this time it is a little different as we for the first time will move to 33.3% Athlete Representation, allowing a wider variety of athletes to run for the Board. We have seats available at At-Large, Grassroots, Technical, Independent and those four athlete spots. One of those will also Chair the USA Weightlifting Athlete Advisory Council and take a seat on the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council. We encourage the membership to think of quality individuals from diverse backgrounds as candidates and encourage them to run. In doing so, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to Jasha Faye (Marin, CA) who has served the full two terms on the Board of Directors and will retire from the Board on December 31 of this year. Jasha has always brought a straight-forward, athlete-focused thought process to his service on the board and has never been afraid to engage in respectful discussion that is healthy of a board. Jasha is a former US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center resident athlete, and competed internationally for the United States, while he now serves as a Coach and Club Owner at Marin Heavy Athletics and as an IWF Category 1 official. Jasha’s experience and perspective will be missed by myself and I am sure board members current and former, alike.
 
We hope this Covid-19 crisis will begin to recede as soon as possible, but until that time we will continue to work to innovate and are open to ideas from the membership on that subject. We hope the effects have not been too bad on you and yours, let’s see what new information August will bring!

Yours in sport,
Phil Andrews
Phil.Andrews@USAWeightlifting.org