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Successful urban weightlifting event at the EYOF in Maribor (SLO)

Following the second edition of the “Swiss Street Weightlifting”, held in early July in the Olympic capital Lausanne (SUI), the urban version of the sport was again in evidence at the start of the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), running from July 23-29 in the historical Slovenian city of Maribor. Besides the 11 official sports on the programme, weightlifting made a very successful demonstration event, gathering 16 athletes from seven nations, in a mixed-gender international team and individual competition format. Each team was composed from one boy and one girl from different countries.

This initiative generated a lot of success and enthusiasm among the participants and certainly constitutes and important step forward in the implementation of new popular events within the weightlifting programme.

Speaking to Inside the Games, Antonio Conflitti, President of the European Weightlifting Federation and IWF Executive Board member, was a happy man with the event: People would say they could just stop by and watch for five minutes, but they ended up staying for one and a half hours and they really enjoyed it. We told the athletes, ‘we are writing a new chapter of weightlifting history and you are the protagonists – enjoy the moment’. They did that, and some of them said they were so relaxed in the environment they had better results than at the European Youth Championships in Moldova two weeks ago.”

The IWF’s Vice-President Attila Adamfi was also in Maribor and praised the organisation of this urban weightlifting demonstration: “Since the IWF organised the first international Street Weightlifting event in Lausanne, in 2022, more and more such events are held around the world. Recently, Lausanne organised the second edition already, a demonstration was held in June in Havana, Cuba, and now this superb event in Slovenia. Jamaica and the European Weightlifting Federation in Olympia (GRE) are also planning to host urban weightlifting events where our sport is delivered to the spectators in a new format.”

Both IWF officials are members of the Working Group coordinating the creation of the first-ever Strategic Plan for our International Federation. On this roadmap for the period 2024-2032, the implementation of new events and innovative formats in the sport is clearly a priority.

“All these events provide great experience that shall be collected and evaluated. As part of our strategic objective to introduce new, innovative disciplines, a consolidated ‘urban weightlifting’ format shall be elaborated soon, with the active participation of the Athletes,” Mr Adamfi says.

Antonio Conflitti, Laszlo Fabian (General Secretary of Hungary’s NOC) and Attila Adamfi 

Mr Conflitti goes in the same direction: “We need to make weightlifting more attractive to a wider audience and these events help to do that.”

Competition-wise, lifters from Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia were in action in Maribor. Team winners were Gabriela Frlan (CRO) and Gabor Bunasz (HUN), while individual best performances went to Janez Paternoster (SLO) among boys, and to Chiara Reljac (CRO) in the girls’ category.