For the first time, seven athletes from Afghanistan will travel to the United States to compete in an AAU tournament. Las Vegas will be home to the Afghanistan National Powerlifting team for the 2013 AAU World Single-Lift Powerlifting Championships on October 10-13.
AAU Director of Sports, James Parker, says, “We are thrilled to see the Afghan Powerlifting team competing with us in 2013.”
President of the AAU, Henry Forrest, agrees. “This is the extension of a relationship developed in 2011 and 2012 between the Afghan National Olympic Committee and the Amateur Athletic Union as part of a military and diplomatic sports diplomacy program between Afghanistan and the United States. This is a historic step in that relationship.”
The Chairman of AAU Strength Sports, Steve Wood, thinks this is the beginning of something big. “It is a historic time for the AAU. AAU Strength Sports are pleased to be at the forefront of this friendship through sports.”
In February 2012, seven AAU-sponsored coaches and a representative from NBA Cares spent a week in Kabul, Afghanistan working with more than 150 coaches of Afghan boys and girls in multiple sports. A relationship with the Afghan National Powerlifting team was established, and a “goodwill” meet was held in February 2012 in Kabul that featured an equal number of Afghan, U.S. and Canadian lifters. As part of that goodwill visit, individual AAU programs in taekwondo, volleyball, basketball and soccer also donated equipment to the Afghan National Olympic Committee (ANOC) for distribution to coaches and programs around the country.
“We’ve been talking with the head of the Afghan Powerlifting Federation for more than a year in preparation for them to potentially field a team in Vegas at the 2013 Single Lift Worlds,” said retired Navy Rear Admiral Hal Pittman, who developed the ANOC-AAU sports diplomacy program while on a military deployment in Afghanistan. “I’m ecstatic to see them make this trip to the U.S. to compete, and I look forward to seeing some of my great friends from the Afghan team.”
“This is going to be an exciting year for our AAU Single Lift World Championships in Las Vegas,” said meet director, Martin Drake. “In addition to the Afghan team’s historic participation, we also have teams or representatives from 10 other countries, and I am looking forward to a great weekend of lifting and Feats of Strength on the Las Vegas strip!”
In addition to the 2013 Single-Lift World Powerlifting Championships and the 2013 AAU Feats of Strength World Championships being held simultaneously at the Quad Hotel, AAU Strength Sports will also hold ceremonies to induct members into the newly established AAU Powerlifting Hall of Fame in both Las Vegas and in Boston, where the 2013 AAU Three-Lift World Championships are being held.
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