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The R word - introduction of AS Records

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The R Word – the introduction of AS records.

Author - Mason Dannatt

Those of you who have known me for some years now have potentially seen me chuckle, sigh, or roll my eyes when asked what a particular Strongman or Strongwoman record is. My distaste for the subject has increased in the last 2-3 years, but you might be surprised to learn that I don’t actually ‘hate records’ or the breaking of them, in fact I'm quite the opposite.

I was 10 feet away from Eddie Hall when he pulled the DL world record at The Arnolds 2015, and I was squealing like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert along with the other 800-900 people present.

It was electric, Colin Bryce was there, Arnie and Tony where there, everyone was screaming, Eddie paced the arena like a mythical hippopotamus. I think Brian was sulking somewhere. From all accounts, when he pulled 500kg in the UK later on, it was like that but times 100.

What I am less excited about is what the breaking of records has become, the manor in which they are often done so, and many of the conversations around them.

It is for that reason, myself and the team have been particularly thorough in the building of our record keeping structure, and have taken the time to consider what will best serve the strongman and strongwoman community if we are to put our name against the keeping of record lifts.

As a word of caution, there are some hard truths in the following text, please note that any statements you might feel are directed at you, are not. But, if any of my comments below touch a nerve….well…

There are two motives that are directing the introduction of AS records – the accurate keeping of data for future participants in the sport to reference (the literal meaning of records), and revitalising the spectacle they provide when attempted and broken. For that to happen, all aspects of the record must be consistent, and people need to care or be excited about them again. Let’s talk about the ways we plan to do that.

It should be noted now, and I have done so SO many times in the last few years. Our priority is to celebrate competition winners, title holders, not record chasers. The breaking of a record should be the sprinkles on the top, not the cake itself (mmm cake). After all, someone can take your record off you, but no one can take that years title.

AS records can only be attempted in select AS competitions, and under a series of strict conditions.

A large factor in the decline of my interest in ‘Australian Records’ was the expectation that was placed on me by a number of people in the community to ‘get records sorted’ across the board. But why should I record, vouch for or somehow validate something that happened in either a rival federations competition, or someones garage or farm-yard comp, where I have no idea what kit they use, rules they run, or ref’s making calls? Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t reasonably do so.

It's for this reason that AS records can only be attempted in select AS competitions, and under a series of strict conditions. Here are a number of them (but not all) –

Note – we will use the two terms below throughout the rest of the article

Standard records (log,deadlift, stone, yoke over set distance at set weight, farmers over set distance set weight, for example. All weight categories)

Freakshow records – one off records, usually without weight class’s. Eg – Heavyside DB’s, Shackle carry, timber frame carry, timber log press.


Both standard records and freakshow records will all be set on the SAME equipment. (with the exception of atlas stones, which will have additional parameters ensuring same sizes and weights, weighing protocols)

No more ‘easy logs and hard logs’. The same two logs will be used for all attempts. The same DBs. The same yokes, the same axle and wheels. Consistency is key. And not just ‘a standard SorS 10 inch log’. Literally the same bits of kit will be kept. This creates great history too. Cool equipment, that hopefully in 10-15 years, new people to the sport can say ‘Damn, Andrea Thompson and Big G have both pressed this log’

An AS certified ref will officiate any record attempts.

Again, consistency is key. All attempts will be judged under the same strict standards. As an athlete, you should want this. It must be heartbreaking to train for a max lift, be given it in comp, then have the internet delegitimise it because it was a bit on the dodge (cough, Bibby, cough)

 Standard records can only be broken in competition, and under competition conditions.

We understand that breaking a record in competition is more challenging than as a stand alone event. But it is SO much more exciting if it is. By doing so, it also means the record can stay in the realm of possibility for future comps, rather than someone training specifically for it for 6 months, blowing it out of the water, then it can never be reached again in comp. They can still do this, but they may have anywhere between 1 and 5 other events to contend with first, instead of just rocking up and doing just that lift.

We have some rules around what constitutes ‘comp conditions’ around timing of attempts, they have been put into place to allow someone to either break a record within their standard 3 lifts, or with a 4th but under reasonable circumstances.

Freak show records can be set and broken as stand-alone exhibitions, or with guest lifters.


Not all records are kept

We have been selective with what records we keep and advertise. This is for a number of reasons. Some are just too hard to standardise. That’s what we love most about SM, and what makes competition great, but it’s terrible for consistent record keeping. It also helps add legitimacy to the records we do keep. Fewer recorded events means people care about them more. I know everyone wants to break or hold a record, but if you just keep creating more records, spectators and fans just can’t care about them all.

Think about it this way. I’m pretty good at farmers carry. My goal as a competitor would be to have people look at a line up and say ‘damn, Mason is in my category, guess ill take second for farmers, he can’t be beaten’. That, to me, would mean so much more than ‘Mason holds the record for farmers carry over 18 yards at a weight no one really remembers’.

You have to be an AS member to hold or set an AS record.

No more checking visa’s and passports. If you break a record in our comp, under our conditions, in Australia, you hold the record. So much negativity and bickering around records here has been off the back of who waves an Australian flag and who doesn’t. We are interested in who did what, here, when, and celebrating the biggest lifts.

If you are passionate about having the biggest whatever ‘for an Australian’,  you are welcome to chase that, but it is not data we will keep.

Long term (12-18month) planning of records within the AS calendar

An extension on an above point about making people care about records again. If they are being attempted and broken every second weekend, fans lose interest, they are less special. Yes, it may at first seem like we are dictating and monopolising the marketability of them, and you would be correct! Don’t you want us to be able to advertise for months that you and a number of other people might be in the hunt for a new stone record? Build the hype and banter? There is a reason Giants Live is the spectacle that it is!

Both standard and freakshow records will be contested at title level shows, as well as at state competition through application by the state promotor, when they set their event list for the upcoming year.


The roll out

In a similar way to when Olympic Lifting changed all it’s weight classes, all their records were set back to 0, and we shall for the large part do the same, with only one or two minor exceptions (where max numbers have been set under conditions recently that completely match the new ones).

Also, similar to Oly lifting, we will attach a minimum weight requirement to set a new record that we keep. This will remove a very low max weight being registered as a record in the first months while data is compiled. Some are within a % of current records we deem reputable.  Some are based off the minimum weight of the implement.

Are we taking your Australian record in whatever it is away from you? No, of course not. Will it become the AS record in whatever by default? Unlikely, as it probably wasn’t done under our set of conditions. You will just have to get into comp and better it soon, so we can celebrate it properly!


What it all means

In my recent experience, people will only care about the records they want to care about, or know about. If they don’t know it happened, or might happen, how can they care? If it’s not reffed properly, or held to a consistent standard, why should they care? If it’s not recorded properly, or advertised after the fact, how can they remember?

Is it another whole bunch of numbers that will dilute peoples achievements? If you are worried about that, I would ask you – how up to date or relevant is anyone else's data at the moment? I can guarantee ours will be.

We are not replacing ‘Australian Records’. We will record AS records. We will track data better, hype them up better, put them on in front of bigger crowds and on TV, reward the lifter for setting one, immortalise them through our website, print and maybe even some $ eventually. Ours will be harder to set, but that much cooler when you do.

Then, we will let everyone decide what records they want to care about again, weather that be remembering as a fan, or chasing as an athlete.

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