This past weekend, I attended my first weightlifting meet. It is being held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The last day of the four-day meet is today, September 16th.
The USA Weightlifting American Open “powered by Rogue fitness” had 1651 competitors, men and women, and that number set a Guinness World Record as the largest Olympic weightlifting competition ever. Incidentally, more women than men were registered.
How do I know?
Because my late husband’s brother’s wife’s daughter, Corinne Grotenhuis, told me so.
I hadn’t seen Corinne since leaving the Chicagoland area, but I know Corinne has been a weightlifter all of her life. At this meet, she was not competing, but serving as Competition Secretary. She called a couple weeks ago and said she was coming to town, but would be so busy, she couldn’t take time out to see me, but if I wanted to come to the meet, we could talk and she’d show me the ropes.
So I went.
I was impressed.
Corinne takes weightlifting very seriously and is happy to tell me that USA weightlifting is and must be a clean sport with regular drug testing. She explained the USA American Open Series 3 serves as the last qualifier for the 2018 IWF World Championships to be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in November. (Corinne plans on being there, too.)
Corinne also noted that while most of the weightlifters I will see are relatively young, weightlifters come in all ages, from 8 to 80 and then some. Corinne is recovering from hip surgery so is just now getting back into training; when she is ready, she will again compete in the “over 35” age category.
Corinne’s job, when I met with her, was to supervise competitor weigh-ins. Competitors must meet weight standards for their weight class, and if they do, they get four entry cards, one for the competitor, and three for the coaches or friends who will set the weights for the competitor.
Making weight is not always easy, of course. Meals are skipped prior to weigh-in and even time in the sauna may be required to pare down a few pounds. Weigh-ins are without shoes, watches or clothes. Doing the job properly with more than 1600 competitors takes time and care. Corinne works dawn to dusk and says she has no time to see Las Vegas other than during during the rides to and from the airport. (She’s been invited back when a tournament is not in session.)
So what is the appeal of weightlifting? Fitness, of course, but also training toward a goal, traveling to meets AND making friends among the weightlifting community. The video included with this story is short, but gives a brief view of the USA Weightlifting event.