The story of head2head weightlifting
Hi, my name is Terry Hughes and I am very passionate about weightlifting. I represented my country, New Zealand, in the under 64, under 62 and under 69 kg men’s weight classes throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I loved competing and fighting the bar with everything I had. After I retired I became a coach and started a weightlifting club in 2006 called the Christchurch City Weightlifting Pirates. It was a new club with new lifters and developing potential. At this time I was searching for a way to motivate my team of lifters and to also help grow and develop New Zealand Weightlifting, so with the permission of the national body, I started a postal New Zealand Weightlifting League that still runs to this day. The league evolved with new rule sets and ways of making the competition competitive for varying levels of performance standards. % of personal best was chosen as the best way to even out the playing field and make the league competitive. Clubs provided teams of 7 lifters (male or female) and those lifters % of personal best were summed and the team with the highest pb total won; a round robin league was developed with a final to determine the overall champion.
But in my opinion, it wasn’t enough. One underlying question of how to make the sport more attractive to the spectator was not answered at all.
At various times, two NZ Junior and Senior representative lifters (Andy Rodgers and Cameron Sinclair) that I coached at the early stages of my coaching career independently came up with an idea to make lifting more exciting for everyone, lifters coaches and spectators. We reflected on the Naim vs Leonidas battle in the 1996 Olympics
and how few and far between close competitions there was like that in Weightlifting and what a huge impact it made when they eventuated – these were unbelievably exciting battles to watch!! How could we capture that?
The answer was easy really; get two lifters to compete head to head with alternating lifts on a % of personal record basis – level the playing field! That way the excitement of a lifter, lifting more than the other guy and then that lifter in turn being bested by the first lifter could be captured. I remember young Cameron mentioning that he would love to have a crack at some heavier lifters (he was a 62kg lifter) to see who had more guts! This made me realize that there was something in this and we had to give it a go, make it happen. However, to convert percentages into weights needed to win, it would require smart software and a bit of risk taking – who knew if it would work? I made a decision to give it a crack and got permission from the NZ weightlifting board to run an international competition. The first attempt at a head to head was made in 2010, with New Zealand vs Australia Junior International. Cameron Sinclair wrote the software and Andy Rodgers and myself announced the event. The software was spreadsheet based, it crashed a couple of times, but in the end the result between the two teams of 8 was decided on the last lift of the day and the crowd loved the show! It worked alright! We ran another junior and youth international in 2011 and then in 2012, we managed to secure a senior event between Aus vs Nz. That event was run in a large event center with approximately 200 spectators, who had paid and were seated with a meal whilst being entertained with weightlifting. The software was reprogrammed as a licensed version by a software engineer and was far more reliable than the first spreadsheet version. Again, that competition result came down to the last lift of the day. The competition was held in New Zealand, so there was a New Zealand crowd wanting a New Zealand win! The Aussie girl missed her last attempt and gave New Zealand the win! You can see that comp and the crowd cheering at this link:
Well, that was a great success for us. But as with all things, we still needed to make it better to appeal to a new crowd on the block. We ditched the alternating attempt format and introduced two platforms so that lifters could lift at the same time, take as many attempts as they wanted within a 6 minute time frame, BOOM!
Andrew Rodgers – Cameron Sinclair – Terry Hughes