/var/www/html/wp-content/themes/Divi/single.php Competition Review: The Singapore National Open Weightlifting Championship 2018 | HK Weightlifting

Thank you to the Singapore Weightlifting Federation for opening your competition up so that lifters from all over could come and compete. I coached five lifters, and I’m sharing an in-depth review of my experience from a coach’s perspective. Let’s get started!

Date: 09-10 March 2018
Time: All day, two-day event
Venue: Bedok Sports and Recreation Center
Results: All sessions

Prior to Competition

I learned of the Singapore competition a month before it commenced. Immediately, I was excited to coach lifters and to go make connections with their Weightlifting federation. Competitions are important for Weightlifters and for coaches, however, making new friends is important too. It’s especially important when the federation in Hong Kong is NOT actively promoting, support, or teaching the general public about Weightlifting.

The Venue

When I first arrived at the venue (07:15), I was excited to see that the competition area was prepared. Everything was set up the night before, there was an early start for the Men’s Lightweight category at 10:00, and there were stations for all the necessary technical positions needed to facilitate a Weightlifting competition: athlete registration, competition management computer, announcer, the marshall table, first aid area, three judges, the warm-up area with 5 platforms and ample equipment, and a spectator area front and center with more stadium seating if needed.

The atmosphere was great. Immediately when I walked in, I felt like competing myself. The size of the venue was adequate, it was clearly distinguished and labelled as to what area was what. The Bedok Sports and Recreation Center is an old school multi-purpose gymnasium with high ceilings, ample space, and stadium seating.

Just outside the stadium there were vending machines and within minutes, there were local food stalls, but wish we had some on-campus venues with more healthier options to accommodate competitive athletes. I still managed to get water and coffee in less than a five-minute walk.

The major venue improvement that I humbly suggest for next time is to have a cleaning the morning of the competition. The bathroom facilities were dated, but that’s okay as long as they’re clean. The floors in the competition area were dusty, and the restrooms were inadequate.

The Warm Up Area

A divider separated the competition area from the warm-up area. There were five two-by-two meter warm-up platforms. They had ample men’s and women’s bars, plates, and clips. The barbell brands were either ZKC or DHS (both of which are IWF standard certified equipment manufacturers). In fact, this was the same equipment used in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

There was also a mix of Australian and Eleiko bumpers and change plates, the men’s bars were a bit rusty, but given the fact that Singapore is a very humid climate, this is to be expected. The competition platform bar was the best bar, and that’s all that really matters.

Technical Equipment

As I mentioned above, each station for all the necessary technical staff needed to facilitate a Weightlifting competition was accounted for.

All technical officials had matching uniforms (black SWF polos, and khakis) and all technical officials were well aware and educated about weightlifting. These guys and gals worked day and night to keep the competition going. I thanked all of them afterwards and I took a photo with Helena Wong, the first female to represent Singapore in Weightlifting at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Two Improvements For Next Year

Provide a check scale. A check scale is an additional scale so athletes can monitor their weight throughout the day. The check scale is typically in an area that is not guarded by a technical official (typically the changing room). Additional benefits of a check scale include:

  • All day access
  • No queuing to use the scale
  • No need for permission from a gatekeeper
  • The same calibration as the competition scale, so athletes know what they weigh before they step on the competition scale.

Expedite competition management by keying in athlete information prior to the session. This was the only negative comment I had about the entire competition, and please understand that my comments on this is directed to the technical improvement itself and NOT the technical staff. Basically, moments before the start of a session and sometimes well into the presentation of the athletes, the TO staff were manually keying in athlete data that I thought they had prior to the start of the session. This slowed down the competition a bit, but more importantly, it affected some of my lifters warm-up times. My athletes didn’t notice this and this is why I preach that my athletes must be prepared for almost anything. I had to strategize a bit differently, and everything worked out in the end. Again, take this constructive criticism as a means of improvement that I’m sure the SWF is happy to note.

Competition Schedule

The competition schedule (Updated 05.03.2018) ran on time. Each session was run well with keen details of quality International Weightlifting Federation rules and regulations. Although the competition was Sinclair based and run with several weight categories combined, it was still a fine-tuned event.

Lastly, and again, the technical officials did a great job of facilitating a timely competition. I also liked the inclusion of all weight categories, and Open, Novice, and Masters athlete divisions.

Competition Quality and Competitiveness

This is the in-depth and very subjective portion of my review, so take what I discuss with an understanding that Weightlifting is a competitive sport in which athletes are striving to be the best that they can. With that said, I was pleased with all of the performances, especially the Master’s lifters category.

When I refer to quality, I’m specifically addressing the number of successful lifts; competitiveness refers to the ranking of lifters in each category. To rank lifters, I used the Catalyst Athletics athlete Olympic Weightlifting Skill Levels Chart. This ranking system, as opposed to the old Soviet system, a modern reflection of the current tiers of Weightlifters of today.

The Men’s Lightweight Categories

The day started at 10:00 with the men’s lightweight categories (56kg, 62kg, 69kg). The top 3 finishers in each category and division (open, novice) get a medal for the total. Overall, it was a good start to the competition. I will say that the Novice division was a bit ambiguous because I could tell that these guys had some experience, maybe as CrossFitters, but they may have never competed in a sanctioned Weightlifting competition. For example, I looked up the guy named “Benny” and he is a Weightlifting coach with connections to Australia and Singapore, but he competed as a novice in the 62 category. Surely, if novice means he has never competed, then the novice category for him was a mistake.

The average totals would have ranked as follows:

  • 56kg – 152kg average total, Level 2
  • 62kg – 160kg average total, Level 2
  • 69kg – 161kg average total, Level 1 (6kg shy of Level 2)

The Women’s Lightweight Categories

The first ladies session started at 12:00 with the lightweight categories (53kg, 58kg, 63kg). The top 3 finishers in each category and division (open, novice) get a medal for the total. This session was even better than the previous one, especially because there were several Singapore national records broken.

weightlifting, singapore, snatch, colin ong swf

Megan Douglas preparing for a Snatch attempt at 50kg. Photo credit to Colin Ong

I had two lifters, Megan and Jayne, in this session. Megan is a 63kg lifter with less than a year of experience, and Jayne is a light 53kg lifter with a CrossFit background. Both have competed before, and in this competition the first one of the year, so it set the tone for the rest of the season. It was good to have them both in the same session, the energy you get from having a teammate there is good.

Jayne went three-for-three in the snatch and her best snatch of the day was 43kg that day (2 or 3 kg shy of her all-time best). She went two-for-three in the Clean and Jerk, and her best in this lift for the day was 55kg (5kg shy of her all-time best). Jayne seemed nervous, which is natural, but she did what I asked so I’m pleased.

Megan went two-for-three in the Snatch, and her best snatch of the day was 48kg. She went three-for-three in the Clean and Jerk, and her best in this lift for the day was 63kg. I’m not sure exactly what Megan’s all-time best was, but she seemed pleased with her performance, and it was a great one nonetheless.

The average totals would have ranked as follows:

  • No 48kg weight class
  • 53kg – 103kg average total, Level 2 – (2kg shy of Level 2)
  • 58kg – 119kg average total, Level 2 – (8kg shy of Level 3)
    • This doesn’t include the 2 lifters who did NOT total from this session.
  • 63kg – 129kg average total, Level 2 – (6kg shy of Level 3)

The Men’s Middleweight Categories (77kg)

This session started at about 3:30 pm, and I had two athletes in this session. Erik is a new lifter from Hong Kong and this was his first major competition. The next lifter was a guy named Tommy, he trained with Dane Miller at Garage Strength in Philadelphia. This session was the most competitive session of the entire men’s competition.

Erik was late because he couldn’t find the venue, he weighed in at 75kg, he opened more than he finished with at the previous competition, however, he only made his openers at this competition. He has still improved, he just needs to gain more consistency in his training and competing. He didn’t do anything wrong, and we didn’t go for any absurd lifts, he just had lots of technical flaws.

Erik opened with 70kg in the Snatch and 83kg in the Clean and Jerk. Still a personal best performance.

Tommy was a cut above the rest, and he pulled the average up. I was and I was very happy to coach him to clutch victory. When Tommy told me his best and what he wanted his openers to be, I was surprised, and when he touched the bar, I was impressed. I knew that he was going to do well. We knew that we would win with our openers, so the goal was to get on the board, qualify for USA Weightlifting Nationals, then set personal records.

It was good to coach a lifter of a higher caliber who didn’t need any technical cues and corrections. He was ready, the communication was clear, we connected very well. I said take 50kg, and in two drops, we will take 70kg, and he had no problems, he just got it done.

We open in the Snatch with 110kg, then we successfully moved to 115kg, and then we moved on to 120kg, but he missed. I thought about holding him back and taking 118kg, but if we missed 120kg, we would have missed 118kg, so we went for it and ultimately we came up short.  

Heading into the Clean and Jerk, we were in the lead by 5kg. As the clean and jerk portion of the competition dragged on, Tommy was fatiguing. There were more than a dozen missed lifts, and there were three technical stops, so this added more time that we could not anticipate into our warm-ups. For example, with every missed lift, if the lifter chooses to follow himself, he gets a two-minute clock (twice the amount of time for rest). One lifter injured his back, so there was a technical stop, and it took about 5 minutes to get him up on his feet. A Weightlifter should never wait more than three-to-five minutes before taking a lift or they risk injury from cold and stiff muscles, tendons, and joints. So I had to sit Tommy down a lot and explain to him what was going on. We even slowed down our warm-ups to four drops (the number of lifts on the platform before we take a warm-up) and it still wasn’t enough to make up for the time.

The average totals would have ranked as follows:

  • 77kg – 207kg average total, Level 2 – (2kg shy of Level 3)

The Men’s Middleweight Categories (85kg)

The final session of the day got underway at around 7 pm. It was scheduled for 6 pm, but like all Weightlifting meets things happen and slow down the competition. I was happy that this was the final session, because I’ve been on my feet most of the day, but I was more excited to coach Ringo.

I must admit, I was a bit nervous for Ringo. He had been doing lots of volume before this competition and he didn’t look sharp like his normal self the week leading up to this competition. He’s a competitor and he was the most confident of all the lifters in this weight category.

We planned to keep everything conservative and play out the competition from there. So, Ringo put in 88kg for his Snatch opener and 100kg for his Clean and Jerk opener. We planned to increase the openers if the warm-ups went well, and they did.

He started with a 91kg Snatch opener, and make it look like a toy. Then we went to 94kg, he missed with a sloppy technical error on the lockout. The loaders tighten it up, and he attempted it again and made it.

We had the same mindset for the clean and jerk. Open smart and make it, then make lifts. We started at 105, easy. After the lift, he pointed towards the ground and in a confident manner, he demanded 110kg. After a successful 110kg, I had to make a strategic decision, do I increase his third attempt and hope for the best in securing a medal, or stick with the plan? I decided to stick with the plan, and when it was all said and done, we came away with the bronze medal.

The average totals would have ranked as follows:

  • 85kg – 206kg average total, Level 2 – (19kg shy of level 3)

The Women’s Heavyweight and Masters Categories (69, 75, 75+)

I missed this category, so I will not comment on the actual lifting from a first-hand perspective, but I will offer a brief analysis of the average totals.

I will add that Singapore has yet to acknowledge the new women’s weight categories and I’m not sure why. I assume there aren’t many ladies in those 90kg and 90kg+ categories, however, the IWF has updated the weight classes, so Singapore should adhere to the international standards. This is more of a statement of fact, than a criticism, because they ran a great competition and the SWF is doing way more to make Weightlifting accessible than we are here in Hong Kong.

The average totals would have ranked as follows:

  • 69kg – 111kg average total, Level 1 – (16kg shy of level 2)
  • 75kg – 131kg average total, Level 2 – (3kg shy of level 2)
  • 75kg+ – 105kg average total, No Level achieved – (15kg shy of level 1)

The Men’s Heavyweight Category (94kg, 105+kg)

I missed this category. No comments on the actual lifting from a first-hand perspective, but I will offer a brief analysis of the average totals.

The average totals would have ranked as follows:

  • 94kg – 222kg average total, Level 2 – (11kg shy of level 3)
  • 105+ – 233kg average total, Level 2 – (28kg shy of level 3)

The Men’s Masters Category

I was in attendance for this session, and it’s awesome to see lifters either finding the sport late and competing or even lifting through what may seem like a lifelong career. The rankings available for categorizing Masters lifters, so I’ll just make subjective comments on the session as a whole.

I was impressed by the sheer number of lifters in this session. In this Masters division, there were six female competitors and eleven male competitors. To put that into perspective, Masters lifters made up for 22% (17:61) of the total number of competitors. That is amazing!

Wrap Up

Thank you again to the Singapore Weightlifting Federation for having us in your competition. You have inspired me to do more and to improve the scope of Weightlifting in Hong Kong.

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