June 1, 2020

Welcome to June, Members!

Right now, we find ourselves at a halfway point in a year that will surely change our nation, and the world, for years to come. Writing this on the morning of June 1st, our nation is currently rightly outraged at the continued racism and oppression being faced by a number of communities, most notably the African-American community. Let’s be clear, Black Lives Matter means what it says: those lives simply just matter and are recognized as mattering. As a Federation, we stand beside the African-American community as they demand reform and justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd and so many others both recently and throughout history. There is no room for racism, or any other form of discrimination based upon race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, military status or disability in sport, or in life.

We can all use this time as an opportunity to reflect and look upon ourselves. In saying that it reminds me of the official song of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, ‘Proud’ by Heather Small. “What have you done today to make you feel proud? It’s never too late to try.” To that end, even though we are the only National Governing Body to change our logo for Black History Month, we were the very first to celebrate Pride, and pioneered adaptive Weightlifting, we’ll be taking a long hard look to see what more we can to do to make our community a more inclusive one, and indeed, thus, “Proud.”

Meanwhile, in our own industry, we’ve seen the devastation of the sport world. We’re doing better than most at USA Weightlifting, and we really appreciate the members who have kept their membership throughout the shutdown. Sticking with us has allowed us to keep our athlete funding model as planned and keep all of our staff employed. Make no mistake about it, we are still feeling the heat financially but less than other sport organizations. I also want to take a moment to thank USA Weightlifting’s staff who have worked so exceptionally hard during this pandemic.

USA Weightlifting’s toughest time financially will likely occur in 2021, where we will face almost two years' worth of funding costs in one year. We should already anticipate a deficit budget during that year.

We recognize there are thousands of members and hundreds of gyms out there still suffering, know that we are here for you and we will do whatever we can to support you. If you haven't already, we encourage you to learn more about our COVID-19 Relief Fund.

We are now starting to re-open around the country, where it is safe to do so, and we’ve seen a few small competitions run in the state of Georgia while in-person coaching courses have gone ahead in four states. We’ve certainly learned where we can make things work using Zoom, BlueJeans and other tools and I can see we will retain that. We recently published our intended measures for returning to training and national competition, which we strongly advise USA Weightlifting clubs to work on.

AS we look ahead to 2021, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and International Olympic Committee produced the new Qualifying system for the 2020ne Olympic Games, and while we still need to work with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and our own Athlete Advisory Council to produce the US selection process; it does mean we will see our Olympic team prospects return to competition between October and April. Only the canceled events from the spring will count, so it means the Ibero America Championships in Cali, Colombia as well as the 2020 IWF Junior Worlds and 2020 Pan American Championships, even if those events end up being held in 2021.

We also have selection action occurring this month as we have our first ever selection camp to decide our 2020 Pan American Junior Championships (the qualification event for the 2021 Junior Pan American Games, a multi-sport event), the 2020 FISU World University Championship and 2020 IWF World Youth Championship (likely to be a qualification event for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games). The idea for a selection camp came from our athletes, and while it is not our traditional method of selecting a team we are looking forward to being able to have some semblance of remote competitive lifting to name our teams for these events, two of which are critical to opportunities for future athletes.

As many of you may have heard, I am also acting in a leading staff role with the IWF, currently as Interim Deputy Director General, helping the IWF with their permanent move to Lausanne, Switzerland. This Thursday, June 4, will see the publication of the McLaren Weightlifting Investigation report which gives the results of the allegations raised in the ARD documentary, Der Herr de Herber earlier this year. I do not know, due to the independent nature of the report, what it will say and will not until Thursday morning. But clearly, this is an important step in the reform and way forward of our great sport in the hopes of retaining our place on the Olympic program for 2024, 2028 and beyond.

We wish you a great June, and above all stay safe.

Yours in sport,
Phil Andrews