Steve Gardner – IAWA Award of Merit

by Al Myers

IAWA President Al Myers (left) presenting IAWA Past President Steve Gardner (right) the IAWA Award of Merit.

One of the BIG AWARDS given over the course of the 2012 IAWA World Championships was the IAWA Award of Merit, awarded to Steve Gardner.  This is the second time this award has been given to someone in the IAWA.  The first Award of Merit went to Art Montini at the 2010 World Champs.  The Award of Merit is a Presidential Award, meaning that it is selected and presented on behalf of the IAWA President.  I made presenting this prestigious IAWA award to Steve my first “order of business” since assuming the IAWA Presidency, after Steve “stepped down” as the IAWA President after 12 years of service (3 terms) 2 days prior at the Annual World Council Meeting.

There is NO ONE more deserving of this award than Steve.  Steve has given SO MUCH of his time and energy to IAWA over the years.  It is also fitting that he be awarded this special award on the 25th World Meet anniversary.  I was honored to give his award speech.  For those interested in hearing it, and missed it the first time around, here it is:   http://www.usawa.com/the-iawa-president-steve-gardner/   .  Steve is the ONLY IAWA member who has attended every IAWA Championship over the 25 year history of the IAWA.  He has always been a participant in some manner – lifter, official, announcer, or scorekeeper!!  I have a story I would like to share about Steve and his attendance at the IAWA World Championships (this one I left out of my presentation speech).  In 1990 when the championships were held in Scotland, the World Championships conflicted on the same weekend with Steve’s Tug of War team who were defending their first National Title.  Steve drove through the night to be at (and help) with the meet on the second day.  He then attended the banquet after the meet with NO SLEEP the night before!! That’s commitment to IAWA and the membership!!

In closing, I would like to share a few words Steve had to say after receiving the IAWA Award of Merit:  ”Al Myers took me by surprise when he presented me with the IAWA Award of Merit recognising my work with IAWA over the past 25 years. I thank Al and all of those involved very much. I have now ‘handed over the baton’ as IAWA International President to Al, after having first taken over from Howard Prechtel 12 years ago. I wish Al all the best and I am sure he will do a wonderful job for IAWA!”

IAWA has a rich history of leadership with past Presidents Howard Prechtel and Steve Gardner.  I promise that I will “do my best” to continue what these two great leaders have accomplished.

Art Montini is presented the IAWA Award of Merit

by Al Myers

Art Montini (center picture) receiving the IAWA Award of Merit. To left is the 2010 IAWA World Championships Meet Promoter George Dick, and to the right is IAWA President Steve Gardner.

One of the HIGHLIGHTS of the 2010 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland was when Art Montini was presented the IAWA Award of Merit, a Presidential Award  presented to Art  by our IAWA President Steve Gardner.  This is the FIRST EVER such award ever given on behalf of the IAWA, and it went to the best eligible candidate in the organization.  Art has been to MOST of the IAWA World Championships since the IAWA was formed, and he ALWAYS represents himself in a dignified, professional manner that epitomizes the character of a CHAMPIONSHIP ATHLETE.  Art competes like he is working a job, always focused and performing picture-perfect lifts like they’re just another “task at hand”.  Don’t let his casual demeanor mislead you when he’s lifting – internally he’s as fired up as anyone else!!!

Another thing that impresses me immensely about Art is the passion he still has for lifting.  Art is now 82 years old, but when you are around him it becomes obvious that he “feels” like a much younger man.  I hope that I will have the same zeal for lifting that he has when I’m his age.  He is a great inspiration to me and I’m sure to many others.  He had no idea that he was going to be presented this award, and even when Steve was giving his intro, Art still didn’t think it was about him.  I was sitting right across from him at the banquet and the look of amazement and acknowledgment upon hearing his name called was PRICELESS!!

This is for Art – every0ne in the USAWA and IAWA consider you our  “father figure” in our organization who we look up to.  We are EXTREMELY PROUD that you have received this AWARD OF MERIT!!!! Congratulations!!