IWF Grand Prix: “It will be an unforgettable event!”
With the presence of Cuban national authorities – namely the Vice Prime-Minister, the President of the National Sports Institute, and the leader of the National Olympic Committee – the IWF Family gathered for the official opening ceremony of the first 2023 IWF Grand Prix, taking place in Havana from June 8-18. Dancing to the sound of iconic “Guantanamera” and other traditional music, athletes and participants in the competition could enjoy a relaxed moment before the start of the competition today, a qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
After the flag display of the 58 nations taking part in this Grand Prix, the dignitaries made vibrant speeches, all expressing their joy and satisfaction for being in the Cuban capital for this major competition. It is Cuban’s return to weightlifting major scene, after having staged the 1973 IWF World Championships. Fifty years later, the elite of the sport is back in the country and aimed at performing well, with less than 14 months to go before the start of the Olympic celebration in France.
“Many of the athletes that will shine next year are also here, in this nation with a strong tradition in our beloved Sport. The Cuban authorities, with their professionalism, enthusiasm and devotion, have made their utmost to guarantee optimal conditions for our competitors. I am sure this effort will lead to an unforgettable event,” said Mohammed Jalood, the IWF President. “The entire IWF Family will feel at home here in Cuba. The hospitality and sympathy of its people, the beauty of this land, and the rich history of this nation will inspire our athletes, coaches and officials, but will certainly delight all those witnessing this Grand Prix on-site, or through TV and digital platforms. Our hosts deserve our deepest recognition for this successful organisation!”
IWF President Mohammed Jalood delivering his opening speech
The IWF leader expressed his confidence in a bright future for the sport. “The performances of our athletes, their fair-play and talent, but also their motivation to get a precious Olympic ‘ticket’ will show once more that Weightlifting fully deserves its place in the Olympic programme. Lifters from the five continents are here in Cuba to demonstrate the vitality, the universality and the unity of our Sport, and its endless effort to be respected in a very competitive sport international environment,” Mr Jalood said. “I wish all the participants the best of luck and success!”
Member of the IWF Executive Board and President of the Pan-American Weightlifting Federation, Jose Quiñones recalled the challenges and subsequent successful responses from the Cuban organisers. “The fact that we are here tonight for the Opening Ceremony of the Grand Prix is already a great achievement. But, most importantly, the competition starting tomorrow will be very successful. And this despite all the economic difficulties this nation is facing,” stated Mr Quiñones. “This event will also be a strong ‘push’ for Cuba and its desired return to the top of the continental and even world hierarchy. I am sure you will make it! You sincerely deserve it!”
Jorge Luis Barcelan, President of the Cuban Weightlifting Federation and host of the Grand Prix, was visibly thrilled to welcome the sport’s elite in the country. “We are determined to stage a memorable event in Havana. The Cuban authorities have been always at our side to ensure that everything is ready and fully operational to run the competition. It has been a collective effort, but a very rewarding one. We thank the IWF for trusting Cuba and for your presence here today,” declared Mr Barcelan.
By IWF Communications