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My team and I felt a warm welcome from all the IPL officials. The competition was well organized, rounds were on time, the warm-up area was well equipped and so were both platforms. The judging was strict and consistent, which means fair. We are obviously grateful for all of that.
From now on, what I have to say about our and my experience with the IPL is a challenge to my writing skills: I wish to produce an objective narrative to my readers without sounding demeaning towards other organizations and avoiding comparisons. Regardless of my expertise in the arts of writing, this is almost impossible: there is a subtext that any minimally socialized powerlifter can read concerning the “model of the situation”. It is undeniable that the sport is practiced within a multi-federative condition. So let’s assume complete neutrality is impossible, that I am doing my best not to be confrontational and to stick to my principle of “live and let live”: this is not the best meet or organization, there is no best, it is just the one I like best.
As a prelude to any comment on the IPL Worlds itself is our experience as the IPL Brazilian branch. Our contact began early in 2012, when we applied for affiliation and were approved. We scheduled our first IPL Nationals for October, aware of the fact that most participants would not be able to attend the Worlds.
Although Brazil has had previous affiliation experience with many sanctioning bodies, all the steps taken by our branch to comply with the IPL rules were shared with the local community and surprised all who followed them. First we provided a translated copy of the rulebook to Portuguese. That is not unusual, but the speed in which it was done, as solicited by the headquarters, was. Then we applied for sanction for our IPL Nationals and received formal approval, which was also made public at our website and social media. The sanction approval document required we sent the score cards to the headquarters in 14 days and posted official results in the same period. That was surely unseen in tropical lands.
– Why is this form funny?
– Because this is how it is done in all the world and all of them will be sent back to headquarters
– And why do you write the names in ink and the attempts in pencil?
– Because it is in the rulebook
We didn’t do anything special. We just applied the rulebook. Anytime we had doubt, all we had to do was write to Steve and it was immediately solved.
Then we figured we would need certified judges. That is when Alan Aerts came into our lives. We received the written test and completed it. After that, each one of us had a long conversation with him about each question over the phone – long distance call.
At that point, if not before, it was clear we were treading new ground. Never before had we experienced such a systematic protocol to guarantee judging consistency.
We finally made it to Las Vegas and competed. Yes, judging was much stricter than I had ever been subject to or seen before (and I have seen and experienced a lot). Squat depth will never leave room for doubt. Bench press chest stops will be not more and not less than obvious. Locked knees, hips and shoulders back will be so or red lighted in the deadlift.
Each and every lifter was treated and judged exactly like everybody else. The general feeling of fairness was unquestionable.
At the same time, all special needs were met or accommodated. Weigh ins were speedy and easy. The warm-up area was organized and friendly: lifters helped each other regardless of team and origin.
I understand the IPL is internationally young and still highly based on the USPA structure and community. I also understand it is not in a hurry to grow internationally, which I applaud. Having ourselves experienced the adaptation to the IPL culture, I don’t expect it to be that simple and easy everywhere. This is good and safe: growing without compromising consistency and quality is naturally slower.
Referee progression gives us extra confidence that there will not be a world record inflation all of a sudden, since years are required to form a critical mass of international referees.
My personal experience could not be better: as a judge, all my doubts were clarified and I feel safe to sit in any referee chair anywhere the IPL requires me to; as an athlete, I feel safe to get under the bar and know my lifts will be judged according to one single standard; as a person, I know I will be treated with compassion and warmly welcome.
All the officials were great to my team and me the whole time and I am deeply grateful to them, but I would specially like to thank Steve Denison, who must have had Zen-buddhist training to keep totally calm the whole time in a 400 athlete meet, organizing, speaking, spotting, operating the monolift and – amazing – replying everyone’s questions; and Alan Aerts, who judged and formed judges, explained every decision to us in detail and was extremely patient all the time.
So, again, as I said, it is not the best because there is no best (see? I managed not to compare), but this is what fits me and is good for me and my team.