December 1, 2018

Happy Festive Season Members:
 
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and is looking forward to the holiday season or just the American Open Finals!
 
November marked another historic marker on the road to Tokyo 2020, the IWF 2019 World Championship in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Team USA progressed again, highlighted by Mattie Rogers’ bronze medal in the Clean & Jerk. This medal marked the first time the USA had won back-to-back medals in a World Championship since 1999 (legends Cheryl Haworth & Robin Byrd-Goad), and the first time the same athlete had won back-to-back medals since 1994 (aforementioned legend, Robin Byrd-Goad).
 
Congratulations to Mattie, Coach Danny Camargo and her support team! I will say though that Team USA’s progress was not limited to Mattie! We had a stellar 4th place from Jenny Arthur (Colorado Springs CO – Unattached), 6th place for Harrison Maurus (Auburn WA – Team Alpha) and high placements in the Clean & Jerk for Harrison Maurus, Wes Kitts (San Ramon CA – California Strength) and CJ Cummings (Beaufort SC – Team Divergent). We also had a strong top 8 placement from Meredith Alwine (Virginia Beach VA – Mash Mafia Weightlifting), in the first Senior appearance for the Junior World medalist.
 
Success continued for our Women, placing 5th in the team standings, a very respectable finish and, to my understanding, our best in a fully-contested Worlds in at least two decades. Honorable mention to Jason Bonnick (Loxahatchee FL – Vero Beach Weightlifting), who became the oldest US athlete to make their Worlds debut aged 37, and had a PR performance to boot!
 
The team started their experience in Germany, where Team USA trained at the German Training Center in Leima, GER. We really appreciated the partnership with the German Weightlifting Federation, and believe this was a useful addition to World Championship preparation. Next year, we’ll be doing this same concept with Tokyo, Japan which will double as a great opportunity to experience the Olympic city just a shade less than one year out from the Games itself. To further aid preparation, we’ll be taking a delegation to the Tokyo Test Event this coming July, too.
 
This success for our athletes and their coaching teams sees us on track to secure a full team of 4 Men and 4 Women at the Tokyo Games. It should now be a thought on how do we secure medals at this event in 2020, just a shade under 600 days from now.
 
Behind the curtain, the IWF progressed at the event by agreeing to outsource their anti-doping operation to the Independent Testing Authority. This means in and out of competition doping control will now be done by the ITA. The ITA was set up by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to be an independent body for testing, similar to how in the USA we have USADA. While the ITA is a very new organization, led by former WADA employee Benjamin Cohen, this is a promising step in a sustainable clean playing field worldwide. However, it would not be fair to not recognize the work the IWF has done so far, especially in the Olympic Qualification system and the stricter anti-doping code that has been brought into effect under the guidance of Richard Young and the IWF Clean Sport Commission.
 
Next up for our teams is the CSLP Cup and IberoAmerican Cup in Guayaquil, Ecuador where (amongst others) Travis Cooper (Warwick RI – East Coast Gold), Jessica Saxon (Cherry Hill NJ – Philadelphia Barbell) and Stephanie Lemmen (Tuscon, AZ – High Desert Athletics) will take on our South American and Spanish friends in a Silver Tokyo 2020 qualification event. This event will also see the debut of the Americas Friendship Cup, a cup donated by USA Weightlifting to allow small nations the opportunity to compete, using the highest combined Male & Female ROBI score.
 
A week or so later, a delegation will attend the 5th Qatar Cup in Doha, Qatar which is also a Silver event. This delegation includes World Championship reserves Cortney Batchelor (Monument CO – Ronin Weightlifting) and D’Angelo Osorio (Vallejo CA – Lift 6 for 6 Weightlifting) who are joined by a promising group of athletes in Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet (Boulder CO – Front Range Weightlifting), Janelle Shafer (Olathe KS – Kansas City Weightlifting) amongst others as they start their Olympic qualification.
 
The majority of you are, however, probably looking ahead to the American Open Finals at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center, with just a shade under 600 of you competing in the frozen north. I want to address comments on how we select sites. A big part of that selection is financial, especially selecting cities which can keep the hotel room rate reasonably low. That means that generally we are looking at cities who are in their ‘off-season’, meaning that they are more likely to offer an aggressive room rate to attract us to that city. The mid-west and north-east are especially difficult to get low room-rates, though this is beginning to be a challenge everywhere. Milwaukee, although cold at this time of the year, does offer a central location for many and a good active Weightlifting base nearby in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. For those attending, there is a heated walkway connecting the meet hotel to the Wisconsin Center, so you don't even have to go outside! As always, you can watch the competition LIVE, for free, right here at USAWeightlifting.org.
 
Away from the platform, December sees the end of the tenure of two valuable board members, Dan Foerster and CJ Stockel, both of whom have served four years with USA Weightlifting on the Board. This has been a time of huge change for the organization, and Dan and CJ’s experienced perspectives have been valuable. At the same time we welcome Sean Waxman and Nick Maietta to the Board of Directors and we look forward to a handover meeting occurring in Milwaukee.
 
It is also time to Thank everyone who gave to the organization for Giving Tuesday, we raised approximately $13,000 over the course of Giving Tuesday, exceeding the total we needed to reach the matching grant of $20,000 from the US Olympic Committee. Thank you to everyone who donated but a special thanks to Mark House and Martine Lellis who gave matching funds to expand each donation yet further. Mark also took this time to become a sponsor in 2019 for the referee food at events, so a double thank you to Mark!
 
There’s plenty more going on at USAW just now as we go through 2019 planning meets with more exciting items coming in 2019, for example our Coach Mentoring Program, a new Level 2 Course, an expanded outreach program, and much more. We’re also already deep into planning meetings for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the Lima 2019 Pan American Games with our colleagues at the U.S. Olympic Committee – but more about all of that next month!
 
I want to wish all of our members a very happy and safe holiday season and a healthy 2019. I’ll be back at the end of the month with a review of the year and a look ahead to what 2019 has in store!

Phil Andrews
Phil.Andrews@USAWeightlifting.org