News and Media


Riyadh, Day 9: It’s a happy birthday double for Osei at IWF Congress and on the platform

It was a 34th birthday to remember for Forrester Osei today, if not in the “party-time” way.

This afternoon Osei wore a suit to deliver a report on the IWF Athlete Commission’s progress over the past year, and its hopes for the future.

His audience at the five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh was more than 100 delegates at the IWF Congress, where putting athletes at the heart of reform policies was one of the main themes of the day.

Forrester Osei between Alex Padure (ROU, left) and Florian Sperl (GER) – Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

A few hours later he was in his Ghana uniform on the platform at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex, trying to make this year’s IWF World Championships more of a success than last year’s. He did it in style with a career-best total.

Osei, who was born in London, brought up in Ghana for 10 years, and now works as a strength and conditioning coach in Qatar, ended up in a Bogotá hospital when he injured his elbow in the 96kg C Group last December and had not competed since then.

Photo by Brian Oliver

The Athletes Commission chair was in the C Group again here, where he made 151-186-337 with five straight good lifts before failing with the last one.

“It was an emotional journey from last year to here, not being able to train for such a long time and undergoing surgery to reconstruct my elbow in February,” he said.

“I hadn’t attempted any of these numbers before coming out here so today has been exciting and fun.”

A key point of Osei’s address at Congress concerned the Commission’s hope that the IWF and sponsors will support athletes during and after their career.

A Transition Programme to help lifters stay in the sport as coaches or technical officials after they retire is part of the IWF’s long-term Strategic Plan that was approved unanimously.

“It was great for us to gain seats for athletes to have a say on all the IWF commissions, and we really like the Transition Programme that will give athletes potentially life-changing skills.

That’s exciting.

“When I came here today I wanted to use the energy I got from that to show that as well as representing the athletes in front of the executive board and the Congress, I can also play the game when I’m feeling positive and healthy.

“It’s a positive vibe to show the athletes that in your life you can do much more, whatever the national federation leaders might tell some of them.

“We all have something to offer but we just need those doors to be open. I’m proud of what I did today. Anybody who watched me can see that I can be a motivator.”

Photo by Brian Oliver

It was a night of disappointment for the first Israelis ever to compete in an Olympic sport in Saudi Arabia, as both failed to make any gains on their best totals in qualifying.

In the women’s 71kg C group, Nikol Rubanovich made only two good lifts in her 95-115-210 while Celia Gold left the platform fearing she had badly damaged her elbow in missing her final attempt.

It turned out not to be serious and Gold, who made three good lifts for 97-122-219, said, “It didn’t go to plan after a month of training in Israel, but at least I’m OK.”

Gold and Rubanovich had both made entry totals of 230kg.

They are joined by two men, Artur Mugurdumov and David Litvinov, and two coaches in being the first team from Israel in any Olympic sport to compete in Saudi Arabia.

“Everybody has been very welcoming,” Gold said.

The biggest name in the C Group was the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Chen Wen-huei from Chinese Taipei, who was in a position to move up plenty of places in the Paris rankings when she had a 235kg total with two lifts to come.

Chen missed both, though, and moved up one place to ninth on 104-131-235.

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games