The New Weightlifting Categories: An Early Assessment
In this article I will share my opinion about the new weightlifting classification system. I am not a professional.
My opinions are based on my experience in the sport, which is limited to just two years. However, I have been following the development of the Olympic sports since they were introduced in 1896 and followed their evolution from a simple physical activity into an art form with many rules and regulations. I have watched the growth of the sport over time. I have studied all the different types of athletes that compete in these events and what makes them successful or unsuccessful at competing. I am familiar with some of the rules and regulations, but not all.
I was involved in several competitions where there were no weight classes because it did not make sense to me. There were only three divisions: Junior, Senior and Masters.
Junior and Senior divisions could be filled by any athlete regardless of age. If someone wanted to enter a competition in a division that had no competitors then they would need to train harder than those who competed in the same division.
Why should anyone compete against an 18 year old when he/she could compete against someone much older?
I would say that even in an extreme case where a 50 year old could compete against an 18 year old, the 18 year old is still at a disadvantage.
The weight classes are not a bad idea.
It makes sense to split the competitors according to weight and height, but why do all the divisions have to be limited to a specific age?
These divisions should be based on experience and skill instead of age. It should be a matter of choice whether someone wants to challenge himself/herself against others at the same skill level or against someone at a different skill level.
Weight classes are necessary in most cases because it is stupid to have so many competitors at one competition that do not get an opportunity to compete. For example, in most weight classes there will always be one athlete that does not get to step onto the platform.
If weight classes are not established in advance then the result after everyone has lifted can be very chaotic. This is not a good way to end a competition because it causes frustration for all involved.
However, there are some weight classes where there will always be one or two athletes that do not get to lift. In these cases holding a separate competition for these individuals would be more appropriate and less frustrating for them.
I have seen this happen in the 56kg class and the 62kg class. These are very popular weight classes, but there are not enough competitors to fill a full competition. Some federations have held a separate competition for these athletes so that everyone could lift, but this is not a great solution because some of the athletes still do not get to compete.
This new weightlifting classification system has created two new divisions for each weight class that are limited to a specific age. In some cases these divisions are labeled differently and in other cases they are not labeled at all.
For example, in the 52kg class there is a Junior division for athletes under the age of 21 and there is a Senior division for athletes that are 21 and older. These two divisions could be labeled something else, but I believe that Junior and Senior describe these divisions better because age is the primary factor for classification.
In the past, athletes in a specific weight class had to choose to compete in the Junior or Senior division. This sometimes led to unusual cases where an athlete might be younger than someone in the other division.
For example, an 18 year old Senior might be competing with a 20 year old in the Junior division. This problem could be solved by making everyone in the Junior division compete against each other and everyone in the Senior division compete against each other regardless of age. While this would eliminate the problem, it would also negate the purpose of establishing separate divisions in the first place. In my opinion, age is still a factor because if everyone in the Junior division was 21 or older, then they would be competing in the Senior division.
The other new division that has been created is for Juniors. Athletes under the age of 17 are placed into this division regardless of what weight class they are in.
This means that an athlete might be competing against others that are much older or much younger than them. Age is still the primary factor even in this division.
While these new divisions have been created based on age, athletes are not limited to only compete within their division. If they would like to compete against athletes in a different age division then they are free to do so.
This is a great thing about this new system because it gives everyone more opportunities to compete.
While age divisions are now available for all weight classes, they are not utilized everywhere in the world. Some federations only have one general division for each specific weight class if they hold weight classes at all.
Other federations hold weight classes for adults but not for youths. This is an area that could still be improved upon in the future. The age divisions could be used for other types of divisions that are not related to weightlifting. For example, there could be an age division for athletes with college eligibility, a division for athletes who are physically challenged or a division for people from the same country. In any case, these age divisions should be utilized more in the future because they give more people the opportunity to compete against others close to their own age and they make the entire sport more accessible for everyone.
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