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L.A. is ready for some heavy lifting

City is in the running to play host to the 2011 Weightlifting World Championships.

September 15, 2007|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

It wasn't quite bait-and-switch -- more like lift and snatch, since this is the sport of weightlifting.

There was a sudden flurry of activity in the run-up to city selection for the 2011 Weightlifting World Championships. This week, the French weightlifting federation abruptly moved its proposed venue about 250 miles away, shifting from Strasbourg to Paris.

Will the last-minute gambit be enough to leap past Los Angeles, the only other competitor in the field?

That won't be known until later today in Chiang Mai, Thailand, when the 22 members of the executive board of the International Weightlifting federation listen to the two presentations and renders a decision.

The late move could either be viewed as a shrewd gamble or something slightly more reminiscent of New York's late scramble with a new stadium plan a few weeks before the International Olympic Committee's vote for the 2012 Summer Games.

This decision is being made during the ongoing World Championships in Thailand, and officials from both countries had to scramble to get the bids ready because the timetable for the choice was moved up from its original target in 2008.

"We think the fact we bid before is a plus," said Los Angeles Sports Council President David Simon, who is among the delegation leaders in Thailand. "It's an event that hasn't been in the U.S. for 35 years and it's never been in L.A.

"The reason we're bidding again is that the most attractive year is the year before the Olympics. You can't compete in the Olympics if you're not in the World Championships."

The last time the event was held in the U.S. was actually in 1978, in Hershey, Pa.

If Los Angeles wins the bid for 2011, the competition would be held in the Shrine Auditorium, which was also the proposed weightlifting venue for Los Angeles' bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. About 600 competitors and 400 coaches and officials would be in town for the event.

Still, the French delegation wasn't alone with a last-minute surprise. L.A. has its own secret weapon -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- for its final push in Thailand.

Not that he'll be there in person, but Schwarzenegger, who took up weightlifting at age 15 and won the Mr. Universe title, did the next best thing by filming a 1 1/2 -minute spot for organizers.

Schwarzenegger has considerable clout in the sport.

As for the bid presentation, Simon said that when Schwarzenegger got to the end of the script, he said something along the lines of, "Now let me tell you about L.A. . . . you'll feel like I do. . . I'll be back."

Of course.


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