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Presidents Blog: A/BPU British Nationals the MUST READ

Written by Emma James on . Posted in News

So here we are, the British Nationals is here again so damn fast.

This year we are looking at 450+ competitors, 3 platforms and more staff in one place than I have ever had to deal with. More equipment, more logistics, lorries and vans and more AV equipment.

Holding our nationals at Bodypower is something that was a huge deal for us - it gives the lifters exposure to over 120,000 people going through Bodypower over 3 days and gives them the chance to be seen by audience of interested and amazed onlookers instead of only those associated with people lifting.

As a lifter you might think its complicated - from the point of view organising a competition at Expo - it really isnt. The only complicated bit you have to think about is where to pick up your competitor tickets and where the additional tickets you ordered are going - all of which is updated for you on the A/BPU web site, Facebook Event page and also the Facebook A/BPU main page. Its all there.

For us, well mainly me and also my husband, its meeting with Bodypower, working out layouts, where seating areas are, delivery of equipment, pickups, ticket collections, where loos are, entry systems, weigh in booth construction, personnel rostas, hotel rostas, checking the memberships for all the entries. Then the data entry for the flights, moving people into flights, changes of weight classes, divisions, people pulling out and putting that all onto the programme that you see on the monitors.

The point I am making is that we have many volunteers all there for you, the lifter and making this happen.. The whole essence of the federation has been to be lifter focused and make competitions the least stressful and easy as possible. Now, an Expo, with all the people creates the added anxiety to competing so it can feel stressy and busy, when in fact, its the same as it was when you competed in a shoe box with 30 others lifters crammed in it. So, perception has a lot to do with it and how you respond to the perception you have is how you will feel.

The reality is that you will have more space than you usually have at any qualilfier, more equipment, more time and more help. Take a moment to sit in the warm up and look around, acclimatize and see all the stuff you HAVE to keep you informed.

Behind each platform audience area will be the monitor for that platform - you probably wont be able to hear the announcements that well, just like at qualifiers, but you will have a HUUUGE monitor so you just keep your eye on that. Get your warm ups in and take the weights on and off the bar yourself, dont bugger about and clog up the warm up kit with others waiting - this is what causes stress for others.

The week of Bodypower, the approximate flight times will go up on the Facebook Event Page. these are approximate and will be until the final weigh ins are done each morning. Assume your flight will change!!!!

Once the morning weigh ins are finished, the race is on for us to work out if the flights are changing. We are only allowed 20 in a flight so if people change divisions and weight classes then that is what causes changes in flight numbers - so its YOU GUYS that create the changes in flights! Normally the first flight wont change but BUT there is always the possibility it might so rule of thumb is to be there 8am. The final flights will go up on paper at each platform and on the platform tables. Check the platform and the flight you are in. We will be working on the split of flights for each day once the entries close on the 29th at 5pm. Then we need until 5th to work it all out.

So, remember few things.

Firstly, this is your British Championships, we are very aware that everything rides on you placing here for the World Championships selection and the pressure you are under. Keep in mind ALL our staff compete and they understand.

As you have all this pressure on you - we try and make everything as smooth as possible but we also need you to read the information posted on the web site, social media and the emails. This way everyone knows what they are doing and it is less stressful for everyone. The pressure will also dictate how you respond to situations and decision making - be aware of this and take a few moments to "opt out" if others around you are pre comp anxious - its spreads! Also try not to get involved in others "stuff" unless you can actually help. Concentrate on your own competing, even though you might want to give support, everyone understands and let the people that can practically help do their job.

Treat our staff with respect please - they are here to help you and give back to the sport. This includes the referees - we are completely lifter focused so we WANT you get your lifts and will help however we can within the rules. If a red light is given then ask what is was for - any aggression towards any staff member will result in you being removed from the competition and the building immediately without discussion and banned from the federation. There is extensive information about how to contest a decision on the Referees and rules page on the web site - so read it! The refs will probably grab you if they want to make you aware of something even if you got the lift - so listen to them!

If you are unclear on rules then ask a referee. Dont ask table staff - ask a ref! If they dont know they will find out for you and if you need help then please ask - come and tell us! Last year we allowed a certain lifter of note to warm up in our area and then found out later he completely hogged a bench - everyone complained about it but not one person came and told us so we could action it. Telepathy isnt our strong point so tell us what is happening - if we arent dealing with something it means we dont know!

I can tell you now that I am so nervous about this. It is a huge undertaking and I am petrified something will go wrong somehow no matter how much beforehand work I do and the rest of the team does. We all want the experience to be positive and easy for you so you can get on with your lifting and the only challenging thing is finding the weigh ins. The admin is huge - its been months getting this ready and organising, since last October in fact. The Bodypower team have been wonderful as well and supported us and me every step of the way. Yes things can change a little bit last minute but the fundamentals are all still the same and at the very end of it the goal is the same - that it is all about you when you step on platform.

I wish you all the best of luck. It is hard competing for a place on a World GB Team and being at this level and I know that. I wish you success on your own goals and that somehow, you enjoy the competition.

Presidents Blog: TEAM GB ROCKED! WPC World Championships 2018 Update

Written by Emma James on . Posted in News

So we are just back form the 2018 WPC World Championships in Orlando Florida and with a hoard of medals! Team GB set upon the USA with brute force and a fair bit of ignorance to bring the stiff upper British lip to Orlando and some very resolute performances. 

The team, made up of 23 lifters from Teens to M5 made it to one of the best venues we have seen at WPC Worlds in some time and the organisation was outstanding. A very posh venue indeed and tonnes of room with the usual Elite equipment as well. The Whatsapp Group was buzzing, the lifters were doing a bit of arm waving and the whole team was firmly behind one another and you cant ask for more than that. I am pretty sure that among WPC World records that the team took there were many personal bests achieved and I do also know that a few of our team had to overcome circumstances prior to coming out to the worlds, and during, that would have flattened most of us. 

Something I did notice was the positive approach so many of the team had before and during the competition. International events can be terrifying and if you are right on the edge with your numbers and going for something never attempted by a Brit before, the risks can be huge. I made a post while we were out there about how proud I was of the team and how hard they had worked and also made a point about the big fish small pond syndrome. What sparked this was a post that appeared and then disappeared on Facebook, the usual "youre not a real world champion as there are so many federations" nonsense which appears every year from some disgruntled person who usually has competed much outside the country if at all. 

The point I want to raise is that many of us at some or another know we are going out to international to meet our fate so to speak. That what we lift is probably not going to win us a medal but we want to compete anyway and give everything we have got. Others also know that there is a high possibility, like myself, that you are having to take a risk to hit numbers which havnt been attempted before and the possibility is you will bomb - but you still do it. Even if you end up in a class on your own, the fact is that you will have had to fight for your place to be there through the British, you will still have trained to improve and up your numbers and keep fighting to improve - with the potential of being hammered at the competition. None of us know what will happen but we go anyway to set foot on platform at world level. 

Now a phenomena which seems to have been appearing in the UK is this holier than though thing from people who have only been around a few years, not only think they are now a guru on the sport, but also they are in a position to criticise others and other federations publicly. Not only is this really "not cricket old chap" it is frankly a fundamental undermining of those people who have earned the right to compete and regardless of their level will be risking everything to fly off to do it. The UK on a whole is really very small, so these "superstars" in the little isle of GB, once on the international circuit where they dont go usually dont fare so well. The real superstars are the ones who are lifting internationally comparable weights BUT who have the humility and professionalism to support everyone, support the sport and also encourage people who are on the ladder no matter whether they do it for fun or a focused goal. 

Every person who lifted at the WPC World Championships was there for every other team member. Every one of the people on the team offered to help others. Every one of our British Team screamed and shouted for everyone else on the days they could be there. I am immensely proud of all our competitors and the damn hard work they put into not only getting there, but also pushing to improve and compete. Below is a list of our GB Team - please give them some love!! 

Emma Ylitalo-James 
Mitchell Wright 
Paul Morgan
Owain Tobias 
David Gibson 
Christopher Jenkins 
John Miller 
Mitchell Ravenscroft 
Kerri Morris 
Dominique Fisher 
Tom Sheppard
Naomi Sheppard 
Darryl Traince
Arran Sullivan 
Luke Geary
Rik davison
Phil Watkins 
David O'Sullivan 
Keenan Freer
Neil Stewart 
Paul Edmonds 
Stephen MacNeil
Nicholas Grasmeder 
Kevin Maher 
Andrzej Roszkowski


Results form the WPC World Championships are here:

President’s Blog – And now the Nationals at Bodypower is over…..

Written by Emma James on . Posted in News, Uncategorized

By Emma Ylitalo-James, President - BPU and ABPU. 

Holy crap. 

Well, as Alan Wilson said, we managed the impossible. Well actually, I think you all managed the impossible. 

I was sat at home writing about critical thinking and the use of cognitive restructuring when an email with the final numbers for the ABPU and BPU Nationals 2018 at Bodypower came in. 


409? no, hang on, this cant be right............ I checked the cells on the Excel file 3 times as I thought maybe the number started at 120 or something.......... but no. 

I telephoned the head honcho in a panic and the first words he said to me when he picked up were "Dont Painc"! The figures I had given him the whole time and had hoped for were around 250. 

How the hell, in the 3 weeks before the nationals were we going to be able to get 400 excited and way too bouncy, angry, stressed, worried and plain terrified lifters through in 3 days in one area and make it feel effortless for them with the least stress. 

Last year I had a grand plan - that the 2018 Nationals would be over 5 days, be absolutely lifter focused so every person felt like the entire competition was all about them and no one else. Then Bodypower asked if we would like to run the nationals there. Well the area that was there to start with 10 years ago was tiiiiiiiiny, it had become an "elite" competition and when I started the federation in 2013 and was then offered Bodypower in 2015, at 3 weeks notice because the previous person running it pulled out at the last minute I knew I wanted to make it all about EVERY lifter of every level, so that people at the Expo could relate and see they could do it too and also progress from beginner to potentially skull crushing weights! They gave us a bigger area and the story began there. Sport is not for the elite few - its for everyone at every stage of thier sporting career and this has to be respected, otherwise what the hell are we doing it for? 

So from the feedback we had from last year - lifters needed a loo beside the comp area, they needed to be able to get out and in, the warm up area needed to be huge, in fact we needed double the size at a minimum and also be right beside a food area. they said yes - so then I started talking tot he lifters and everyone said they wanted to do the nationals at Bodypower - this wasnt what I had in mind but hell - lets try it! I floated it past a couple of people within the federation who were absolutely against it - but at the end of the day if the lifters are saying they want it then thats it. 

The people that offered to help when the announcement went out was incredible. I will never be able to say thank you properly to the degree it should be to all the referees, the help with sending the invitations, setting up the flight lists, extra announcers, table crew, weigh in staff, runners and getters, people you trust who can talk to the organisers because you cant leave the platform, coffee grabbers, records writer downers, and, the most important part - the spotters and loaders and the platform managers. They were under immense pressure - I mean pivotal. The whole success of being able to get through 160 people in one day on 2 platforms on the Saturday rested with those guys - 1440 loads in one day. 3681 loads over 3 days.....................

If you think the platform manager does nothing you are wrong - the platform manager has to keep the time and pace going, be able to hand out anything up to maybe 300+kg, be able to work out the loads in their head even though the loads are on the screen (looking at the screen knocks seconds off the load time, multiply that by 1440 and you can see how late the day could have gone), get the loading right, check it, handle the spotters, and not many can do it, I certainly couldnt. The spotters have to be able to load and keep loading as well anticipate something going wrong but also not touch the bar - thats a fine line. 

We had the usual technical equipment issues, screens not working, no power, headsets needing changing and usually happened every morning so my heart was in my mouth every morning trying to get the AV guys to come and help us so we could start at 9am which was critical - and every time they appeared with a smile, fixed, added, changed and taped and all usually with a relaxed stroll and usually finishing with about 3 minutes to go!! They always knew it would be fine - for me, I get incredibly stressed if things are not right and ready an hour before hand. EVERYONE at Bodypower so so damn kind and supportive especially when they knew the challenge we were facing. I know there some jobsworth's on the Saturday (NEC staff, not Bodypower) not letting people in when they should have but I had no idea and when someone finally came to get me, it was the financial controller of Bodypower who happened to be standing close to the entrance who sorted it out for me in a matter of a minute - not his job but he stopped everything he was doing and dealt with it straight away. 

If the paperwork and lists and hotels and organising people and travel and timings and tickets and parking passes and all those things are not not done well in advance then it all happens last minute and thats when mistakes are made. With this comp - one tiny error as the timing was to tight - could cost the lifters everything and make is a rubbish comp. I was up til 5am a couple of nights just working on it all. Kalle and I through the weekend were still up doing data input until midnight then up again before 6am and at the venue by 7am. It didnt seem to matter how tired we were in the morning and the terrible anxiety of whether it was all going to fall apart - once the lifting started, the tiredness went, the Adrenalin soared and watching each person, especially being able to be there announcing, push to the limit to try and get a place at the AWPC and WPC worlds was just incredible. As the president and the founder of the federation, I have the privilege to know a lot of the stories behind the scenes. The trials and tribulations for people and how hard each person has worked to try and get thier places on the world stage. It is a shame in the last year or so I havnt been able to have as much interaction as I would like due to my own personal work commitments and the fact the federation has grown so much BUT with every person that walked on that platform, me and probably every person that has ever competed, went with them through the lift. Whether it was a 48kg woman pulling 80kg or a 140kg guy squatting 400. The atmosphere at times was completely electric - you could feel the entire area crammed with people and 10 people deep around the barrier willing them on and I still remember a few people bursting into tears because they had finally hit a target they been working on for so so long. 

I really must thank our lifters for going with it - I hope my posts and info that I gave warned people and set the scene for what it may be like and bless you all you, you took it in your stride and made this the most inspirational event I have ever witnessed. I desperately hope you got what you wanted, felt valued and somehow felt it was worth it all. I really must tell you all that Bodypower form the outset, because they knew we had a hard job on our hands went the extra mile. You wont have seen this but behind the scenes they helped so much. I must thank Paul (in particular), Ash, Grace, Tom and Nick for all the support they gave me when they reliased the pressure we were under as well as well as being under severe pressure themselves trying to run an event that size. Also for telling the NEC parking people to "f+++ off" when they were going to try and ticket our van at the back of the hall because I ran out of time and couldnt move it to one of the perimeter car parks from unloading that morning. 

It is still emotional thinking back over the weekend - I just cant thank every competitor who came there enough. I am beyond words for the help that was given and how tired everyone was but still kept going. I am also extremely grateful for the friendships I have made and the words that made the difference when I really did want to throw everything out the window and walk away.

Alan Collins - my dear dear friend and the man, who if it wasnt for him, there would be no federation. In the midst of the shitstorm when I ended up with the license in early 2013, there was no one else on board. He listened, pushed me and got me to keep going and set this up through all the shit and barriers and down right rotten stuff people were doing because they were pissed off. He leant all his equipment for every comp until we made the money to buy all of our own (we still had to borrow Alans kit for this one, and Dayle Longfords! because of the sheer size of this) and he is someone I cannot and never will be able to thank properly - the best I could do was to name a competition after him (Dan Evans idea). Also a few people who were part of the original founders who still are there when I get down or get shit and publicly stand up for me when so many do not want to put their neck on the line - Dan Evans and Dan Yeates and of course Alan - thank you all so much. 

Finally, my husband. He came on board in 2015 and is now the administration officer but in all fairness is a lot more than that. He has to live and breathe this with me, even when he is trying to get on with his own stuff, he has to listen to the exasperation when monumental pillocks are either giving me crap or when things fall apart while I am trying to make everything look effortless and smooth! He has had to drag equipment all over the country, answer emails at midnight through the admin, do lists (he isnt big on that), get shouted at for not doing things quick enough (nothing is ever quick enough) but mainly for seeing and feeling what I feel about the people and the sport we have and the true companionship and camaraderie a majority of the lifters bring to every competition. He has worked so very hard with me on progressing this federation in the last 2 years and I think without him i just wouldnt have been able to manage as well as bringing his own Finnishness and also some truly terrible Finn music! 

Anyway - thats it! My deepest respect to everyone - my endless thanks for helping get us all through this. I will let you know if Bodypower want to host the nationals again, if they do then we will work on the basis of 3-4 platforms! I should know soon. 

Until the next time - in France, at the Euros - yes I am lifting and woe betide anyone that tries to talk to me when im lifting............. (yes im a diva) SEE YOU THERE IN SUNNY FRANCE AND THEN AT THE WORLDS!



President Blog – April 2018 Nationals and Reffing

Written by Emma James on . Posted in News

Nationals, Platform Etiquette and Reffing 

We are a few weeks away from the 2018 BPU and ABPU British Championships being held at Bodypower. As we have a lot of new lifters (5 years competing and less) it was thought it would be useful to put in some refereeing info for you. 

First and foremost - the referees are there to help and WANT you to get the lift. All of our referees must be current competitors and in order to be able to sit a referee exam, they must have been competing a minimum of 2 years. For me, I have been an international referee since the late 1990's and nationals since...... well...... a few years more than that! Darren has been an international referee for 4 years now, Patricia has sat her international exam in 2016 and passed her practical and still has the written to finalise. We have a wealth of experience there to help you from our national referees and dont be fooled if someone looks young - they may well have been competing a lot longer than you since they were 15 or 16. On a personal note, recently a new competitor said "what do you know, you just bench" - seeing as I RETIRED from full power in 2000 after 12 years of competing full power, just be careful what you say to people who are trying to help you when you are new to the game! 

If you get a red light, ASK! Dont strop off in a huff, ask! Genuinely, all our refs give a red with regret and will do anything to help you get that lift in. Also remember that angles taken by video, unless taken EXACTLY behind the referee at the same height etc, are misleading. None of our refs will comment on videos shown as you just cannot see properly and frankly if you start waving video at us, you will get a really sharp answer. If you try to show us a video from the front - then run! You cant judge depth from the front unless it is really obviously high. If you have got 2 no lifts, particularly on squat, and your friends are all saying "it was in" and waving video - ignore them, they are not helping you at this point. Speak to a referee and find out what is going wrong or get someone to call your depth from the side - or ideally both. 

Referees do make mistakes, things happen on platform and in the event that there is any doubt, it is obligatory to give a white. However, if you absolutely think it was in then you need to immediately speak to the head referee, not 5 minutes later with a video as at that point we cant do anything about it - there are so many lifters going through we really cant remember what happened on your 2nd bench. You may sometimes see a squat go through you thought was a little high - frankly unless youre standing exactly in the same position as the side ref, you really cannot see. However, as a referee, if you are unsure about a lift and its depth or position etc then you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the lifter and give white. Comments are also passed about depth when people are standing on one side where the lift looks high and they get a red but 2 whites from the front and other side, but the lifter is twisted, lop sided due to physical issues or one foot is slightly in front of the other which means they are in one side and not the other. So, before anyone starts moaning - think about those things. 

The aim of the referee is to provide impartial and fair judgement. I dont know of any of our refs that I would ever consider "not" impartial or empathetic. At international competitions where you dont know the referees, stand and watch how it is going. What do you need to do in order to get those white lights? What are they watching in particular, is there someone reffing depth from the front (I know we dont do it but some internationals do) and watch the referees style. These are all things as a lifter I had to do personally for years and still do. 

Lastly, if you get a lift failed, dont take it personally. You may be pissed off, but believe me when I say most refs hate the fact they have had to give a red light. When a lifter hates you for it and takes it personally, it really does hit hard even though you cant show it. I have shocking guilt red lighting people even though I stand by decision and am completely confident in the decision - we dont take it lightly and a red is the last resort. Do remember that if you absolutely disagree or something has happened which hasnt been noticed then you need to action it there and then and of course it will be fully taken into account and dealt with appropriately. If you feel a referee is consistently giving bad calls then mention it to the head referee. We dont close ranks (unless you're being an aggressive or disrespectful tit) and all still compete. We are there for you, to help and give fair judgement so always make use of us. Ask ask ask ask and ask! 

Anyway - here we go, a few weeks away now and I wish everyone an outstanding British Championships with endless whites and the results you have been working so hard for. 

Emma Ylitalo-James