My World Champs Experience
By Al Myers
John did such a great job with his World Championships meet report this is not gonna be a report, but rather “my take” on my experience at the World Championships in Perth. This meet was my third meet at the Belmont Sports Club in Perth, Australia, so I’ve been there before. The WA Club is “centered” out of the Belmont Sports Club and they have a really nice set up there, with everything you need for All Round Weightlifting. I let my wife Leslie make our travel plans for this one. I never thought she would make that long trek across the ocean again with me to Australia, so I bribed her that we could do a “tack on” trip to Bali after the meet. Well, that plan didn’t work out with the Volcano on Mt Agung about ready to blow so we changed last minute to taking a vaca to Melbourne. But much to my surprise (I should have looked at our flights before we headed to the airport!) but it had us getting into Perth Friday afternoon! Normally I like a day or two to adjust to the travel lag, but not this time!
No sooner than we got checked into our hotel in downtown Perth it was time to head to the AGM of the IAWA. No rest for me! Upon reaching the club, it was great to see ole friends and familiar faces of the WA lifters. John Mahon, the meet promoter and host, greeted me right away. A small group of lifters and club members joined us for the meeting. As Prez I had all the details of the meeting agenda lined out beforehand, but I was hoping the travel hadn’t affected my congnitive thinking. I didn’t want to be like Peter the year before in Lebanon where he was drifting “in and out” of consciousness during the meeting. Plus this was my first AGM without the ole pro Steve Gardner at my side which added to my stress levels. But luckily, there were no debateable issues on the agenda so the meeting went super smooth.
One thing about the Aussie group – they know how to run a good meet. John and the WA crew had all of the details of the meet taken care in advance and were ready to roll! On Saturday the meet started right on time. At the club they have a big room adjacent to the gym which is perfect for meets. One thing was different from previous years – the platform was laid out on the other side of the room, which actually worked better as the stage was behind the lifting area giving a nice appearance with the WC banner hanging on the stage curtain and the trophies lined up on the stage. I knew most of the lifters from before, but it was nice to meet some new lifters. Another thing about this club, they are the most friendly group. I announced the first session of lifters. It was great to see the large group of women lifters entered. Much more than most World Championships with 5 lifters, and every one of them very quality lifters. I was super impressed with Monica Cook. Monica was Best Overall Women’s Lifter at the WC in Perth in 2003, and she repeated that title again. Australia has now hosted three IAWA World Championships (2003 and 2011 being the other two) during the history of the IAWA, with this one being the 30th year of the organization. Miriam Phillips put up the highest total of all of the women lifters, and it was sure fun watching her lift. She gave all out on her lifting attempts! Sharni Clifford did all of the scorekeeping (with Mel assisting her) and those two did an excellent job. Having a good scorekeeper at your side when announcing makes everything go much smoother. I greatly appreciated her efforts – plus when it was her time to lift she just “jumped out” of her chair and did her lifts between inputing the scores.
Some of the men also lifted in the first session. It didn’t take long and I realized that Bill Kappel was gonna be hard for anyone to beat! Bill was the outstanding Men’s lifter in the 2003 World Championships (which was his last WC before this one). Bill went on to win the Overall Best Mens Lifter again, which is quite an accomplishment to make his return to IAWA Worlds this way. Of course, it was great to meet up with our USAWA President Denny Habecker again. Denny always represents the USAWA in fine fashion, and has not missed a WC in many, many years. “Uncle” Denny lifted exceptionally, finishing 6th in the overall standings. The ole veteran Tom Davies was solid in all events, and I swear he had a smile on his face the entire time! He has been involved with WA All Round lifting longer than most (probably since the beginning). John Patterson didn’t lift but was officiating. I had to chuckle when John told me that he didn’t think he would see me again after last seeing him at the 2015 Gold Cup in Perth. I always enjoy my conversations with John as he has a wealth of lifting knowledge. And John – before you know it – you will be seeing me again as the Gold Cup will be in Perth again in 2019 and I plan to make it!
The afternoon session was packed with great lifters. John “tag teamed” with me with the announcing duties which I was grateful for as it’s hard to be on the mic and the platform at the same time. However, often we were lifting “back to back” so it created some issues with the MCing, but we fought through it, sometimes out of breath as we were announcing. But back to the lifters. Super impressed with Javan “Jay” Waller – super lifter and great guy. Jay finished fourth in the overall standings which is tremendous for anyone’s first World Championships. A couple of the lifts he had the top lift of the day – the dumbbell snatch and the 2″ Straddle Lift. Alex Biasin finished in fifth place overall, and won the title of being the “best dressed”. Everytime I turned around he had on a new themed singlet of which I have never seen the likes of before. This just reflected the personality of Alex, as he was as dynamic on the platform as he was in dress. He put up the top feet in the air bench press of the meet. Great to see Sam Trew again, as we have lifted together in several World Championships. Sam is a workhorse – loaded all day for two days plus lifted in the meet! Add on to this set up and tear down work. He had to be exhausted from the weekend. I can’t forget to mention Peter Phillips in my report. It is always a pleasure to share a platform with Peter during a meet. Peter has been a perennial powerhouse all rounder from Perth and President of the ARWLWA. Overall, Peter finshed in third place overall.
It was fun catching up with Robin Lukosius. Robin is the “money man” of the ARWLWA, and responsible for making sure all fees are collected and bills paid. He’s super efficient with these jobs which is a critical part of the meet success. We had good times on the platform together in the meet as well, especially when we had to dual it out in the Clean and Press. Both of us have worn out shoulders and lifted early in the flight, thus had to battle it out for the worse presser. We both gave our best efforts, and in the end Robin barely won the title this time around between the two of us. I do have to reveal the reason why – it was that “secret” Aussie liniment of Peter’s that he let me use on my achy shoulders before the lift that gave me the edge I needed. Two newcomers to the sport, Steven Charles and Doug de Prada showed great ability, and I know without a doubt will be future superstars in IAWA if they keep after it.
Awards were given out right after the meet because a few of the lifters couldn’t make it to the evening banquet where often the awards are presented. My WC Award was the most unique trophy I have ever recieved. They were hand crafted awards made from railway spikes representing a lifter in action. The base was made out of a native Australian wood. Really loved the award – except for the 5 pounds it added to my luggage on the way home! The banquet was in a fabulous location and a private room was reserved for our group. It gave everyone time to relax, enjoy a few drinks together, eat a great meal, and reflect on the outstanding World Championships! These are the memories that I always remember from these IAWA trips.
In closing, I want to say that I am really proud to be part of such a great organization, And a BIG THANK YOU to John Mahon and the rest of the WA crew for hosting such a great World Championships!