by Al Myers
I am a little embarrassed to admit this – but the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Walpole, Massachusetts was the FIRST Gold Cup that I have attended. Truthfully, in the past I just couldn’t understand why someone would go to a meet where ONLY one (or two if time permitted) lifts for records were allowed. It just didn’t seem to make sense to me – especially since I could go to a local record day or a meet and set SEVERAL RECORDS. So I always passed on attending “the cup”. But now since I have been to one, I now understand the significance of this meet and have a completely different feeling about it. The Gold Cup is one of only two IAWA Events (the World Championships being the other) that is contested each year. It signifies the excellence of our lifts and recognizes those that are representative of our organization on an International level. By attending, it shows that you are one of the elite lifters of the organization. The Gold Cup was initially organized by Howard Prechtel several years ago with the concept that this meet would allow lifters who were World Champions to come to perform their BEST lifts for records, and in the process have a RECORD DAY that was the BEST of the BEST, and thus give our organization more exposure by demonstrating the tremendous abilities of the lifters within our organization.
What all can I say about the efforts of Frank Ciavattone for organizing this great event??? Frank has been a National and World Meet promoter for many years, and his experience of putting on a TOP QUALITY EVENT was evident. Frank had an excellent venue for us to compete in. It was held at the Italian American Club in Walpole (which is just outside of Boston). Lots of room for lifting and viewing, a great platform to lift on, and plenty of weights. Our IAWA President Steve Gardner handled the scoretable and announcing and kept things flowing very well. Judy Habecker assisted with the scoring and does more “behind the scenes” than anyone else in the USAWA. Thank you Judy from all of us!!! Eighteen lifters competed and set many new IAWA World Records. I really enjoyed seeing the variety in lifts performed – from deadlifts to presses, to unique lifts like the Clean and Press on Knees. Some of the lifters were “seasoned” competitors like Art Montini and Denny Habecker, while others were still teenagers, like Joe Ciavattone Jr, Jonathon Ciavattone, Frankie Ciavattone, and Kohl Hess. The age of the lifters varied between 16 and 83 years of age.
What were the highlights of the meet? That is a hard question to answer because it seemed every Gold Cup Record was a highlight. Things that really impressed me where: seeing Frank do 160 kg in his signature lift – the one armed deadlift, watching the wily Dennis Mitchell performing 600 reps in the Roman Chair Situp at the age of 78, and seeing Art perform a stiff-legged deadlift of 100 kg with ease. Most guys his age couldn’t bend over to pick up 50 pounds and he does over 200 pounds with straight legs!! Of course, I really enjoyed watching Joe Ciavattone Jr. deadlifting over 500 pounds for the first time! I very clearly remember when I did that for the first time as a teenager. That had to be one of the best lifts of the day. My father LaVerne attended the meet with me and I talked him into lifting. He did a 187# one handed Ciavattone Deadlift. At the awards banquet when he was presented his trophy he remarked to the group that it was the first trophy he had won in a weightlifting meet! And speaking of trophies, Frank went way beyond expectations with the trophies he gave out. He awarded EVERYONE a large Gold Cup in appreciation of their performances. Just another little thing that SHOWS why the Gold Cup means just a little bit more than another ordinary record day! Chad and I were the only ones to do a two man lift for IAWA record. We decided to do a 2-man deadlift, after first wanting to do a 2-man one arm deadlift (but it is not an IAWA lift). After doing 1000# in the 2-man deadlift, we were allowed to do our 2-man one arm deadlift for exhibition and USAWA Record. I wanted to do this lift for Frank – and thankfully (because I didn’t want to let Frank down) – we got our 800 pounds. Another great performance of the day was John McKean’s one arm dumbbell deadlift of 266# (I know his inspiration was that DINO GYM SWEATSHIRT he was wearing!). This broke a record he set over 10 ago – which shows he is getting better with age. I really enjoyed getting to FINALLY meet Joe Ciavattone. We always seem to “just miss” each other by attending different meets, and he is the great lifter and person I expected him to be. His passion for lifting shows when he is busy coaching his boys.
Afterwards, Frank hosted the banquet at his house. That is the type of generous person Frank is – opening up his house to his lifting friends. The food was fabulous!! Frank’s Mom and his sister Cara prepared an Italian Feast that had everyone “licking their chops”! I know I ate my share. After the awards were given out, I conducted the ceremony in which Scott Schmidt was officially inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame. Scott gave a very thankful response in appreciation. I will have more on that in a future USAWA Daily News story. Another special moment for me was when Frank presented me with a special award thanking me for my work and efforts in the USAWA. It meant more to me than the big Gold Cup I received for lifting.
NOW I know what the IAWA Gold Cup is all about, and it is more than just going to a meet to set a record. It is about being part of an elite competition promoted by the International All-Round Weightlifting Association.