by Al Myers, IAWA President
Another year is underway in the World of All Round Weightlifting and the IAWA. Our history has been a rich one over the past 25 years in IAWA. I feel the time is here that I should make my “presidential speech” – since being elected the IAWA President last October at the AGM of IAWA. I know this is an expected duty of any incoming President - but I am doing this with some reservations, as I feel that we “have a good thing going” and BIG major changes are not really needed in our organization. This is due to the previous administration, especially under the guidance of Past IAWA President Steve Gardner. Steve has lead IAWA in excellent fashion over his two 4-year terms as IAWA President. I am only hoping that I will be able to “follow in his footsteps” with the same enthusiasm and passion that he has shown for IAWA. One thing that has always impressed me with Steve is his belief in the democratic principle within the organization, which I wholeheartedly agree with. IAWA is a democratic body, and in turn should represent the majority viewpoints of the membership. I promise that I will do my best to represent the feelings of those that elected me, even if my feelings are different on issues. I’m your elected representative and it’s my duty to represent your views. Please contact me with your concerns if you have them. I am “very open” to hearing from the membership and encouraging discussions to solve problem issues.
The International All Round Weightlifting Association (IAWA) is the “umbrella World organization” of three Nations that contain organized All Round Weightlifting associations – the USAWA, the IAWA(UK), and the ARWLWA. I feel the primary purpose of IAWA is to provide the guidance to allow all three organizations to come together for annual World competitions, ie The IAWA World Championships, the Gold Cup, and the IAWA World Postal Meet. As President, I will make sure to represent all Nations involved. I also recognize that we are not all “mirror images” of each other, and that is a good thing. The USAWA has distinctive qualities to it that are different than the IAWA(UK), while the ARWLWA has it’s own very unique “flavor” to their organization. We are all different in many ways. History and membership viewpoints are what have driven this, and thus each organization is providing what is wanted by those directly involved. That’s why I’m saying these differences are a good thing and should be emphasized and commended, instead of criticized and condemned. However, there are ever-constant problems in “coming together” for World events when ideas are different. There has to be some “give and take” to work out these issues – and that is the primary purpose of IAWA – not to supersede established traditions within a nations governing body.
I do feel that the relations are at an “ALL TIME HIGH” between the USAWA, the IAWA(UK), and the ARWLWA. This has been shown over the last couple of World Championships. Again, much of this is attributed to the work of Steve and his ability to promote unity and work through difficulties diplomatically. He has that gift of leadership. I will continually “lean on him” for advice in any major IAWA decision made or influenced by myself, as well as the elected board of officers and the IAWA Technical Committee. The positive relations have also been enhanced by the available networking medias now-a-days. The USAWA, IAWA-UK, and the ARWLWA each have active Facebook pages to facilitate communications between not only their membership, but others as well. Practically every day I have contact with someone overseas, either via facebook, message boards, or email.
Ok – up till now it seems like I’m just being “general” with all this talk. I’m sounding like a Politician just throwing out “feel good” concepts that are not specific in any way. Well, let me give a couple “specific” ideas that I would like to see get accomplished during my next four years in office.
Develop for the first time a IAWA Rulebook
Up till now there has not really been an IAWA Rulebook. Each organization has followed their own rulebook which has left many rules of IAWA “unwritten”. Examples of this is that there are NO WRITTEN rules outlining the proper approval presentation of lifts, the rules of government for the World Championships and the Gold Cup, rules for the IAWA Drug Testing Policy, etc. I could go “on and on” about this as these “unwritten rules” apply to MAJOR ISSUES, which are WAY BEYOND individual lift rules which are only MINOR in comparison.
Encourage and recruit at least one more “member Nation” to IAWA
Though the years IAWA has had many lifters from countries outside of the United States, the UK, and Australia compete in the Worlds or Gold Cup. However, as I stated earlier, these other Nations do not have organized All Round Associations consisting of bylaws, Rules, and sanctioned competitions – and these lifters have competed in IAWA events on their own. I would like to see other Nations “step up” and form All Round Weightlifting organizations that would join IAWA to strengthen and expand our organization. I will make it a goal of mine to help facilitate this, and provide any guidance that is needed to accomplish this.
Develop historical archives for IAWA
I have already done some of this which is available on the USAWA website under the “history” section. However, I would like to see our history preserved beyond what I have already done. I hate to see the past history of the organization “lost” as time goes by. We have to remember where we came from, as that defines who we are now. There are VERY FEW around anymore that have been with IAWA since the beginning and know this history firsthand. I think it is important that the younger lifters have somewhere to look to find out more about the history of our organization.
We may not be a huge organization that has thousands of members – but we are a “close knit” group. I would contend that having a large membership with hundreds of lifters at the World Championships may NOT be a good thing. Right now we all know each other and when we get together at meets it is like seeing your family members at a family reunion. The camaraderie between competitors is strong –something you do not see in other lifting sports. Little things like that would be lost with a large membership. We presently have a great IAWA World Record data base – with thanks owed to Chris Bass for this, and before him, to Frank Allen. The drug testing at IAWA events has been upheld to the ethics of the organization. We state that we are a drug-free organization and we do the testing to prove it. That’s something to be proud of. We have been diligent in promoting our events. Not once since the World Championships or Gold Cup has started has these events not been contested on a yearly basis. The annual promotions of these events are vital to the future of IAWA, as they are the basis of our yearly success. Included in this is the IAWA Annual General Meeting – which allows the membership to speak their concerns and voting to be taken place to uphold the democratic principles of the IAWA. The AGM is held every year without fail. Under my term, I promise to keep these events held faithfully on an annual basis.
Like I said earlier – the IAWA has had a rich history of success. Despite a few “up and downs” and doubters through the years, the organization has not only survived but has thrived. At the past IAWA World Championships last fall we celebrated the 25 year anniversary of IAWA. Let’s make the NEXT 25 years just as good as the first 25 years!