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End of year message – Mohammed Jalood, President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF)

As we reach the end of 2022, the time has come to reflect on a year that can and must mark the start of a new future for weightlifting.

The stakes have never been higher for our sport – particularly as we seek to secure its place on the programme of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028. 

The circumstances that led to my election in June – and that of our new Executive Board – mean all our actions are rightly subject to considerable external scrutiny.

But responsibility for weightlifting’s future starts and ends with all of us – and we must continue to constantly self-evaluate and analyse where we can improve for the benefit of our athletes and our sport.  

I am grateful for the work of all those throughout our global weightlifting family who have risen to the challenge in 2022 and demonstrated a commitment to unity in the best interests of our sport.

The recent IWF World Championships in Bogota, Colombia showed everything weightlifting has to offer, with a series of outstanding athletic performances resulting in medals from more than 35 countries.

It followed an important Special Congress, where our member federations took the opportunity to reinforce their commitment to reform. I was encouraged by the approval of reports reflecting significant work undertaken by the new IWF Executive Board over the past six months.

For this progress, I must acknowledge the tireless professionalism of Antonio Urso, whose appointment as the IWF’s new Secretary General has been extremely well received. Since June, Antonio has led our engagement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in order to align our federation’s activities with international federation best practice.

The results span a number of critical areas, starting with anti-doping, where the IWF has strenghtened its partnership with the International Testing Agency (ITA) on such key areas as testing, investigation and education.

From a governance perspective, in the past six months we have moved the IWF headquarters from Budapest to Lausanne as part of a broad review that will see a significant overhaul of the Secretariat’s operations.

In addition, we have taken significant steps in communications, commercial and broadcast – most notably with the appointment of Sportfive as the exclusive rights sales agency of flagship IWF events such as the IWF World Championships.

This year has also seen innovation, in particular with the staging of the 1st IWF Street Weightlifting Championship in Lausanne in April, which brought our sport to a new urban setting and engaged new audiences through creative sport presentation and an influencer programme working with some of the leading international fitness creators.

Such efforts built on initiatives driven by many of our national federations to connect weightlifting to a broader community, tapping into the explosive growth and popularity of functional strength training around the world.

As a Board, we recognise the significant value of all the work being undertaken at national and continental levels to attract new fans and participants to our sport, which is why we have ringfenced new levels of funding to support development. It was also pleasing to see the IWF family itself continue to grow this year, with the addition of North Macedonia increasing our membership to a record 194 nations.

Of course, among the highlights of 2022, I must also mention the historic elections for the IWF Athletes’ Committee, whose 10 new members will play a crucial role in strengthening the athlete voice across all of our decision-making. Three of them will join us on the Executive Board and as full voting members of the IWF Congress, making the IWF the first international federation to achieve such a level of athlete representation. I have already been greatly inspired by the athletes’ commitment and ideas.

As we look ahead to 2023, we remain committed to continued reform in the best interests of our sport.

From January, significant changes will be introduced within the Secretariat, including new role-specific key performance indicators and third-party tools to deliver greater transparency, efficiency and security of financial management. Work will also begin to amend the revised IWF constitution in order to make it a truly workable tool to deliver exemplary governance across all of our activities.

On the field of play, 2023 will be a important year of qualification events for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, underpinned by new measures to protect clean athletes. We wish all of them the best of luck.

Alongside the various continental championships, we also look forward to the IWF World Youth Championships in Durres, Albania in March, where we will pursue our commitment as a signatory to the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework with a pilot project to eliminate single-use plastic in event operations.

In this area, and many others, the IWF can rightly claim to be among the most progressive international federations. Work will continue in 2023 on a number of initiatives presented at Congress, including the development of Beach Weightlifting, the creation of an IWF refugee team and a new athlete scholarship programme proposed by our Athletes’ Commission.

There is much to be proud of as an IWF family, but the continued efforts of every member will be crucial to secure a positive, athlete-centred and sustainable future for our sport.

It is in this spirit that I thank you for your work and commitment over the past 12 months. I wish all of you – and our great sport of weightlifting – a very happy New Year.