As usual with this article series I will start with an anecdote. Before competition Igor asked if I could help as a secretary. I agreed with no hesitation! I didn't have any doubts. I'd already led powerlifting and weights before, and I'd been a referee in other disciplines. What could be so difficult about armwrestling competitions? Oh, let me tell you, there could be a lot! Up to two losses! Oh, Dear God! Oh, Guardian of Justice, oh, blind Themis! Being a secretary for this competition was the most challenging work for me since the defense of my master's thesis!
Yes, it was a long time ago. And then Marcin Mielniczuk, whom I want to present to you again, showed up. I've written here LINK before about Marcin's role in the directing process of a sports event, about putting together and coordinating a complicated procedure of creating a show. Now about his role in the creation of a computer software for executing armwrestling competitions. I'm going to say it now – it IS a material promoting PAF and the Mazurenko Armwrestling Promotion crew. I'm not going to hide my intentions – I want the whole world to know that WE, here in Gdynia, in Poland, had a significant input into what our sport is today! I know a bit about sport and in my opinion there is no other sports discipline like that in which us, Polish people, hold so much real and concrete credit for technical aspects. If anyone knows another discipline like that – please let me know.
Let's get to the point and to the interview with Marcin. First question – was it you who invented the “bejdżyk”, an identifier?
Marcin Mielniczuk: It would have been nice but it wasn't me. It's true that when I joined the Federation, the competitions were executed on paper. I asked myself – why don't we move to the digital era right now? We already had computers, after all. I wrote the software with Kuba Sierpiński. Our goal was to replace careful, focused but faulty referees through leaving all the work to a computer. The software was created, we tested it at a small competition, then on a bigger one, and then at a master's level competition too. Afterwards we made efforts to eliminate any bugs and errors.
Our most common mistake was that the person pressed the wrong name – because the athlete appeared on the wrong side of the table and after the duel they were denoted incorrectly.
Then we introduced name badges for all competitors so that the referee knows who is who after the fight.
After that we got the bar codes with starting numbers of the competitors – scanned with the same scanner as in a shop. We just had to scan the winner and everything else went automatically. There were some issues when one athlete competed in both masters and seniors – so we introduced a rule that a category can be turned on only when the athlete does not compete by a different table.
PeSzy: When did it start “for real” for the first time?
Marcin Mielniczuk: This is probably a question for Igor Mazurenko. The badges have probably made it into usage about 10 years ago.
In 2007 at World or Europe Championships, in Bulgaria, it was just me and Kuba who executed the competition with 8 tables.
PeSzy: Were you the first ones, or had anyone ever tried a system like this before?
Marcin Mielniczuk: Canadians and Slovaks. The Canadian system required a license and was very complex.
The first software was made by Marian Capla in Slovakia. It included the computers, IDs and bar code scanners. Kuba and I saw it and talked to Marian about the software. Another Slovak, Peter Veres, was also there, and he could navigate in this area just as well. The Slovak crew executed the Europe Championships in 2008 as their last ones. Then it was our software that was used in WAF competition.
Its big advantage is the fact that you only need a device with a connection to the Internet for everything to work.
PeSzy: How difficult is it to use the software?
Marcin Mielniczuk: You could probably learn it, too, so very easy...
PeSzy: I don't have my glasses!
Marcin Mielniczuk: We have taught many people from different federations, and they have taught many other people. Now, all aroud the world, there is about a few hundred (I think) people who can execute competitions.
PeSzy: Have you encountered any “surprises” after the tests?
Marcin Mielniczuk: Yes! A situation where a competitor receives a free-by – it's okay but... If they then receive a free-by for the second time, and that could happen – a problem arises.
PeSzy: Thank you for the talk, and to those who haven't yet – I invite you all to read the previous article. I also invite everyone for the next talk about cameras and replays while judging a competition.
Marcin Mielniczuk: Thank you for the conversation.
To be clear: the software is called Mazurenko Championship Management, in Polish SDPZ, short for System do Prowadzenia Zawodów (Competition Management System).