An open letter to British Weightlifting
My name is David Whittington. I am a BWL and UKSCA coach, and I am unsatisfied with British Weightlifting as an organisation at a regional level. On behalf of myself and numerous weightlifters I have talked with or who are coached by me, I wish to express my disappointment in BWL and promote discussion on the issues that I am raising here.
My concerns can be grouped chiefly into three areas:
The disparity between different regions within the BWL structure in regards to organisation, participation and promotion of weightlifting, and the lack of standardisation.
The organisation of the upcoming Central Championships, specifically:
– The method used to invite lifters
– Removing the competition as a potential qualifier for the English / British championships for uninvited lifters.
– The discriminatory nature of the athlete selection, in particular gender discrimination.
The poor organisation of the upcoming Central Open.
First, I would like to question the standards and consistency employed by BWL at a regional level. I, and many others, feel that there is a significant difference in the approach taken by the different regional bodies in terms of the sharing of information, the number of competitions held and introductory or developmental events.
A good example of this would be to look at the websites for Central (http://www.centralregionsweightlifting.uk) and Northern (http://northernweightlifting.com/) as a comparison. The quality and quantity of information provided, including results, competition calendar and news varies enormously. Further to this, there does not appear to be official sites for London & SE or South West at all.
Why is there not an official and branded site for each region, and why are they not standardised?
Why are they not linked to from the BWL website?
Why is there not a central database of upcoming competitions on the BWL site?
Second, I would like to turn to the Central Championships to be held on 12th December 2015.
In terms of the selection process, I believe the method used is unfair. The organisers have used the Sinclair coefficient to invite the top performing athletes from the region from the previous 12 months in order to make a selection. I was informed that this was to keep the entry numbers down to make the day shorter. I understand the need to limit the entry numbers (both in terms of time constraints and standard of lifting), but I believe that using Sinclair rather than setting qualification totals has resulted in an entirely skewed sample of lifters being invited.
In this instance there have been NO lifters invited from the following weight categories:
Also, the following categories have 3 or fewer athletes invited:
The Central Championship is the flagship event of the region, the largest and most prestigious competition for the Midlands. How is there a scenario where competitors in FIVE out of 15 weight categories will be awarded a championship medal for simply turning up and posting a total? Additionally, lifters in one-third of the weight categories will not even get the opportunity to compete as there is not a single athlete invited from them. This is ridiculous and makes a mockery of the whole event.
In addition to this, any athletes that were hoping to use the Central Championships to qualify for the English championships in January, including myself, will now no longer get this opportunity, indeed one of the last opportunities to do so. Not only that, but there are lifters on the list who have been invited, but are not aware of it as the organisers have not even contacted them.
Is participation not one of the priorities of British Weightlifting?
How can BWL claim to be increasing participation with such a poor system in place?
The organisers of the Central Championships have also decided to arbitrarily limit the male competitors to 25, and female competitors to 15. I, and every single person I have discussed this with, finds such a discriminatory practice outdated, unfair and offensive. Why is the gender ratio of invited lifters so warped?
How is it that in an equal opportunities society the selection process for invitations to a sporting event can be so sexist? As demonstrated by the current funding situation, BWL aims to increase the participation of female lifters in particular. How are we meant to trust in the equal opportunity provision of our sports governing body?
Finally, I wish to criticise the organisation of the Central Open competition for November, which has changed date several times, and is now scheduled for a Sunday just 6 weeks away, leaving many athletes unable to compete and many with the need for reprogramming to taper towards the meet.
I strongly believe that regional-level competitions should be set at the start of the year and collated centrally on the BWL website and calendar.
I welcome open discussion on any of the points raised in this letter, and hope that it leads, in any small way, to the positive growth and change of weightlifting in Great Britain.
David Whittington, ASCC
This work by David Whittington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.