As some know, AKC Team America traveled to San Diego in hopes of competing in the IGSF World Championships. Needless to say, it was a gloomy weekend and I'm not just talking about the weather.....
A little back story. My original intent was to go and watch with my friend Lorraine Patten. She has traveled to Eastern Europe for more meets than any other American and formed many friendships with some of the best male and female KB Lifters in the world. So, we definitely wanted to see our European friends while they were relatively close in the states.
Since I knew Dmitri Sataev was organizing this meet and based on my prior experience and the experience of others, I knew I wanted nothing to do with being a member of his "Team USA". Dmitri heads the USGSF. USGSF is an obvious "For Profit" organization. Unfortunately, he is the IGSF representative which is really a "Not For Profit" organization. See the problem yet? If not..you will.
Sherbina is the IGSF President. My coach Valery Fedorenko had contacted Sherbina 4 or 5 times to ensure that we could compete. We would compete independent of Dmitri's "Team USA". We would pay the same registration and license fees that our Eastern European counterparts paid. We would not pay the ridiculous $170.00 fee demanded by Dmitri.
Even though we were told by Sherbina we would compete, we still suspected that there would be a snafu because of the prior dealings with Dmitri. Needless to say, he exceeded expectations.
Lorraine and Valery represented our team in meetings on Friday morning because it was clear that Dmitri had no intentions of letting us compete as independent guest lifters. After a 2 hour battle, they reached a compromise. We would pay the $170.00 to compete. We would be independent and not represent the USA. Lorraine and the AKC offered to pay part of this registration but all of our teammates were willing to contribute their fair share. We paid. We weighed. We registered. After doing this, we were all approached by Dmitri who was clearly upset. He kept babbling about his "Business" and "insults" and his house. He kept trying to bait us all into an argument and we just ignored him and went to lunch.
We returned from lunch, and long story short...We were told we would not be competing. Dmitri had raised enough of a stink ( I Suspect he threatened to pull the entire competition) to get our registrations nullified. We were all stunned and extremely disappointed, but we left it alone because we respected the fact that our friends from Europe had paid a great deal of money for travel and we didn't want to ruin the meet for them.
I can say with absolute confidence that the best lifters in the USA did NOT compete in the IGSF World Championships this weekend.
We had decided that we would attempt to be spectators on Saturday so that we could cheer for the Ukranian women.
On Saturday, we paid $20.00 to watch (that was just for Saturday!). One thing I can say is that Dmitri gave absolutely NO THOUGHT to the competitors when spending his money on this competition. I was almost glad I wasn't competing. The platforms were too small. They were on a shaky stage. Did I mention that there were no digital-visible counters? So, the spectators had no clue as to the count. They used these card counters that were not really visible to some of the competitors. They screwed up the flights and consequently people were not prepared to step onto the platform. The clock didn't work for the first few sets. The height of the professionalism of this meet came when Dmitri counted for his wife Elaina's set and could not figure out how to use the card counters. Who knows if he screwed up her score or not. To be fair, She did a pretty good job and went the 10 minutes.
There were also little things. For example, when the teams walked out in the opening ceremony, they couldn't seem to get the appropriate National Anthem with the appropriate team in some cases. However, when Dmitri took the stage the "Rocky" music was flawlessly synchronized with his grand entrance.
He claims to have spent a lot of the money on the competition. Perhaps he spent it on the absofuckinguseless jumbotron screens. Maybe he spent it on the security guards that were onsite to make sure our team didn't start trouble :) Perhaps he was too obsessed with who was talking to Valery to make sure his own meet was running smoothly? Did I mention that he tried to have security remove Valery from the meet on Saturday because a competitor approached him to talk to him? Sherbina intervened and Valery stayed.
Our Eastern European friends were less than complementary regarding this meet. I've been to my fair share of meets. In all the meets I've attended with > 20 competitors, this was the worst as far as organization and supplies. Maybe it was because Dmitri himself has very limited experience in the competitions. We know for certain that he didn't attend the World Championships in 2005(Moscow) or in 2006(Latvia). How do we know? Because members of our Team attended both meets. Dmitri sent one competitor in 2005, and no one represented the USGSF in 2006.
Trust me when I say I haven't even captured 1/2 of the drama here...As awful as this all sounds....The sun came out on Sunday and I had a great training day with my teammates. Many thanks to AKC Coach Rich Sayen for providing us with training facility and AKC Professional Bells. I would be remiss if I didn't thank Steve and Tracy Cotter for making sure we got an additional set to use.
Things I learned from this experience.....
I will never take the AKC or Valery Fedorenko for granted. They care about the sport and the competitors as evidenced by the meet in Miami and their gestures in San Diego. While they are in the business of training to make money, they know where the line is drawn for competitions. We were disappointed that we could not compete because we really wanted to showcase what we had learned from Valery.
Lorraine Patten is one of the most passionate supporters of this sport. I actually already knew that, but it was constantly reinforced this weekend. She went to bat for all of the AKC athletes. In fact, the IGSF was going to present Lorraine with an award at the competition but after the debacle with Dmitri, they had to present it to her in a Midnight Ceremony. This was recognition for all of her hard work in promoting this sport in the USA and going above and beyond many times to provide USA representation in IGSF competitions in Europe.
As long as you are with your friends you can make a bad situation good. We had a great time even though we were not able to compete. It reinforced once again that our sport and the events are not just about the competitions , medals and ranks but they are also about the friendships we forge. Our friendships and our team grew stronger this weekend. Thanks to all who made the trek to San Diego. I love you guys!