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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

Lasha Talakhadze fights hard to claim his sixth world title

By Brian Oliver Lasha TALAKHADZE (GEO) had to battle for his sixth straight super-heavyweight world title in an exciting final session at  the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Bogotá, Colombia. The multiple world-record holder and double Olympic champion missed two lifts for the first time since 2015. After he made 251kg to claim the +109kg gold on total he had to watch while two men tried to overtake him in the clean and jerk, Man ASAAD (SYR) and Ali DAVOUDI (IRI). Asaad was close to finishing off the lift, but he dropped the bar, and Davoudi did not clean his attempt so Talakhadze had yet another sweep of golds on 215-251-466. “Yes, I had to fight for it, but I will come back and win again next time,” he said. Talakhadze weighed in at 166.5kg, about 10kg lower than last time at the European Championships and 16kg below his weight when he won the world title last year. He lost weight on his doctor’s advice, when a very minor irregularity heart irregularity was detected, he said, and he had suffered a leg injury in his preparations. The extertions of competing at altitude also appeared to take a toll, as Talakhadze took on oxygen before the medal ceremony. But he said, “I will be back stronger.” Talakhadze’s first clean and jerk at 245kg was ruled a no-lift, and the Georgians’ challenge failed. It was a no-lift “due to a pause during the extension of the arms” – and Talakhadze admitted that he had given the referees cause to make their decision. Gor MINASYAN (BRN), who switched nationality from Armenia to Bahrain this year, was second only 4kg behind. Minasyan, 28, missed his last snatch and first clean and jerk, and got closer to Talakhadze than he has ever been. In third place was Varazdat LALAYAN (ARM), who earned a huge cheer from an appreciative  crowd when he avoided a bomb-out by making his final clean and jerk at 246kg to finish 215-246-461. Asaad, the Olympic bronze medallist, took the clean and jerk bronze and finished fifth on 198-247-449, a place behind Davoudi on 202-247-449. There were plenty of other Olympic medallists in the line-up, including the first two finishers at 109kg in Tokyo, Akbar DJURAEV (UZB) and Simon MARTIROSYAN (ARM), who were the lightest athletes in a field of 10 at 124kg and 127kg. Djuraev withdrew – his presence still counts as a “participation” in qualifying – and Martirosyan made only two good lifts in his 190-235-425. The best lifter awards at the Championships went to Chinese athletes, JIANG Huihua (CHN) in the women’s 49kg, and LI Dayin in the men’s 81kg. China, the United States and Colombia topped the women’s team classification in that order, and it was Colombia, Georgia and China in the men’s

Li Wenwen wins again – and Britain’s Campbell speaks up for ‘beautiful’ weightlifting

By Brian Oliver at Gran Carpa Américas Corferias in Bogotá The Olympic champion LI Wenwen (CHN) finished 24kg clear of her nearest rival – the Tokyo silver medallist Emily CAMPBELL (GBR)  – in the women’s +87kg super-heavyweights at the IWF World Championships in Bogotá. This is the first qualification event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and Li is already in a very strong position after making a total of 311kg. The top 10 in the rankings (one athlete per nation) at the end of April 2024 – based on the single best performance from at least five participations during qualifying – are guaranteed a place for Paris provided their national federation selects them. Nobody else in the world is capable of making anywhere near the numbers posted by 20-year-old Li, who won by 37kg in Tokyo - except Tatiana KASHIRINA (RUS), whose world records in the old +83kg class are bigger than Li’s current +87kg world records. Thomas Bach, the IOC president, “explained the unifying mission of the IOC and the Olympic Games enshrined in the Olympic Charter” when he spoke with the president of Ukraine, Volodimyr Zelensky, according to an IOC statement today. “We will go along with whatever the IOC decides,” said Mohamed Jalood, the IWF president, in Bogotá after Li’s victory. Asked if she would like Kashirina to compete in Paris, Li said, “I respect all rival athletes the same.” She did admit, though, that in the long term she has set herself a target of beating Kashirina’s +83 world records of 155-193-348, which are all better than Li’s +87kg world records of 148-187-335. Li came out after everybody else had finished in both snatch and clean and jerk, finishing on 141-170-311. Campbell had to work hard for silver after missing her first clean and jerk at 157kg. She them made 161kg after a good break while others lifted and her numbers went up, and followed it up with a career-best 165kg to claim second place. “I’ve done a lot of good prep for this and I never miss jerks, it’s one thing I never do, but I felt all over the place,” Campbell said. “This altitude really gets to you and after that last jerk I felt like I was in another world.” There were far fewer no-lifts than in most sessions here. “Look at that scoreboard, there’s a lot of blue (good lifts) on there,” said Campbell, 28. “You’d think it would be harder for us, at the higher weights at this altitude but that’s a good effort all round, a good session.” Yesterday Dave Sawyer, Britain’s national coach who with Cyril Martin runs the gym where Campbell trains, had helped Solfrid Koanda to become Norway’s first female world champion when she was without her usual coaching team. “Solfrid needed that help yesterday. She has been a training partner of mine in the lead-up to this, and it just felt natural for Dave to help her - and look at what she achieved last night,” said Campbell. “She’s here supporting me today, they’ve come in with all guns blazing, with the same energy for me today, my special support group – Solfrid and the boys, Enzo and David.” The “boys” are Enzo KUWORGE (NED) and David LITI (NZL), who have also trained at Sawyer’s gym with Campbell and Koanda. “We’re a beautiful, beautiful community in weightlifting and I think people forget how beautiful we are,” she said after yet another medal ceremony where the athletes showed each other the utmost respect. The fourth-placed finisher Sarah ROBLES (USA) wore a Father Christmas hat to receive her snatch silver medal, having made 127-155-282. “Weightlifting is very special and we should be so thankful that we have such beautiful people in our sport,” Campbell said. Campbell made 122-165-287 and Duangaksorn CHAIDEE (THA) made six from six for third place on 126-160-286. Another strong favourite, the clean and jerk world record holder Ruslan NURUDINOV (UZB), won a sweep of golds in the day’s other medal event, the men’s 109kg. Nurudinov, who was 31 last month, made only three good lifts but still finished 8kg clear on 177-220-397. Giorgi CHKHEIDZE (GEO) was second on 170-219-389 and the Rafael CERRO (COL) third on 174-214-388. The two snatch medallists behind Nurudinov, Mehdi KARAMI (IRI) on 176kg and Aymen BACHA (TUN) on 175kg, dropped to fourth and fifth on

IWF honours Paul Coffa, coach of 540 weightlifters, with place in Hall of Fame

By Brian Oliver On the day when his athlete Eileen CIKAMATANA (AUS) won a sweep of bronze medals at the IWF World Championships in Bogotá, Paul COFFA (AUS) was officially inducted into the IWF Hall of Fame – after more than 60 years of service to the sport. The man who is known as “the father figure of weightlifting in the Pacific region”, is the first coach to join the Hall of Fame. Before Cikamatana competed in the women’s 87kg he was given his award on the platform by Mohamed Jalood, President of the IWF. Jalood praised Coffa’s huge contribution to the sport as a coach and as general secretary of the Oceania Weightlifting Federation (since 1992) and the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation (since 2006). “This is a man who deserves so much respect, for his coaching, for helping to make weightlifting popular throughout Oceania – and for making sure it is a very clean sport,” said Jalood. No weightlifter from Oceania has tested positive in 16 years, Coffa said. Coffa became a coach in unusual circumstances. “My last tournament as a competitor was in 1965, when I was in my early twenties,” he said. “All three referees judged my first and last attempts in the press a no-lift, and I didn’t make the second one. I was disqualified and I abused the referees for not knowing the rules, so I quit lifting. “Sadly the three referees passed away, so you can’t question them why they disqualified my press.” The highlight of his coaching career came at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, where the Australian tuna fisherman Dean Lukin made a huge personal best clean and jerk of 240kg to win gold. Coffa relived that event in Bogotá yesterday when he met another of the sport’s longest-serving coaches, the American Jim Schmitz, who coached the LA silver medallist Mario Martinez – the last American male weightlifter to win an Olympic medal. After a successful time as Australia’s national coach, Coffa moved to Nauru – and weightlifting was about to take off around the Pacific islands. He helped to promote the sport to such an extent that at one point in the late 1990s Nauru - population at the time 9,500 - had more weightlifters registered with the IWF than China. The big boost came when Marcus Stephen, coached by Coffa, won Nauru’s first gold medal in any sport at the Commonwealth Games in 1994. “Paul helped to make weightlifting so popular on Nauru that the Cabinet would stop its business to discuss why the split jerk is more effective than the famous Pyrros Dimas push jerk,” said Stephen, who became President of Nauru after he retired from competition. Stephen, President of the Oceania Weightlifting Federation, described Coffa  as “the father figure of weightlifting in the Pacific region”. He added: “Don’t forget, Lilly (Coffa’s wife) is everything to us as well.” Paul and Lilly founded the Oceania Weightlifting Institute, which moved around the region and hosted athletes from many Pacific islands, in 2001. Dika TOUA (PNG), another one of Coffa’s athletes, is attempting to qualify for a record-breaking sixth Olympic Games. She will be 40 when Paris 2024 begins. Coffa, 80, and his elder brother Sam, chair of the IWF Technical Committee, fell in love with weightlifting while watching athletes train in a hall just down the road from their home in Hawthorn, for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. They emigrated to Australia from Sicily in the early 1950s. The brothers, who have maintained their links with Italy over the years and have trained there and held training camps, were both awarded the highest honour by Italy’s National Olympic Committee, the gold star, in 2018. Paul Coffa was also awarded an MBE, one of the top honours bestowed in Britain and its Commonwealth nations, and the Australian Sport Medal in 2000. “Paul has quite literally devoted his life to athletes,” said another of his former athletes, Matthew Curtain, general secretary of British Weight Lifting, who sits on the IWF Executive Board. Coffa has coached 540 lifters from 15 nations since 1965 and has been responsible for 104 medals,  including 39 golds, at the Commonwealth Games, plus two Olympic medals – it could be three if Cikamatana keeps up her progress - and hundreds more around Oceania. Cikamatana took Coffa’s IWF World Championships medal tally to 27 today. Asked who was his favourite lifter among those 540, he said, “Robert Kabbas, not just for his medals but for his attitude and his love of the sport.” Kabbas, who was born in Egypt and emigrated to Australia, won an Olympic silver medal in 1984 and two Commonwealth Games golds. Coffa has also been the chief organiser of 70 events including the 1993 IWF World Championships in Melbourne and the 2011 IWF Junior World Championships in Malaysia. When will he finally quit? “When Eileen wins a medal in Paris,” he

Electrician Koanda in tears after becoming Norway’s first female world champion

By Brian Oliver Solfrid KOANDA (NOR) became Norway’s first ever female world champion when she won a sweep of golds in the women’s 87kg at the IWF World Championships in Bogotá, Colombia. Koanda suffered such a bad injury in training in August that she thought she might not be fit in time for these Championships. She was in tears on the platform after the medal ceremony as she explained what had happened. “Not long ago I didn’t even know if I would be able to compete, and now I am standing here with three gold medals – a dream come true,” she said. "All I’ve been thinking about is my journey since August. It’s been very slow, very hard work, and I am really proud of myself.” Because of that stress fracture in her wrist, Koanda was training first with a stick, then just a bar until only a few weeks before she competed here. She was also without her usual support team of Stian Grimseth, president of the Norwegian Federation who had to return home early for back surgery this week, and coach Zygmunt Smalcerz, who did not travel to Colombia. “I had to slow everything down. It gave me a chance to work on myself as an athlete, mainly in the head, and now I’m full-time as a weightlifter.”   In 2021, when she ended the year by finishing third at the IWF World Championships, Koanda was working full-time as an electrician, having started her apprenticeship when she first moved out of CrossFit and began weightlifting seriously. For her big day in Bogotá, Koanda, 24, turned for help to Britain’s Dave Sawyer, who joined the team to help her in the back room. “For a World Championship you have to be tactical and make smart choices, so Dave was perfect today. Without him I think I would have been a little bit lost.” Koanda is a friend of Emily Campbell, Britain’s Olympic silver medallist who trains at Sawyer’s gym. She spent some time there in preparation for Colombia and asked Sawyer to help here “because I trust him”. Grimseth, whose surgery was successful, said after watching from Norway, “This is incredible. Solfrid has been training Olympic lifts with a stick and a bar from early September almost until mid-November. She increased slowly to start with, then more and more in the two last weeks. “She has done a lot of other training, and I see a big progress coming for the Europeans.” The European Championships are in Armenia in May, by when Koanda will have dropped down to the Olympic weight category of 81kg. Koanda’s only serious challenger for gold was Eileen CIKAMATANA (AUS), but she failed with four of her six attempts. Koanda finished 113-147-260, all career bests, and Cikamatana made 109-140-249, taking bronze in the two lifts and silver on total. In third place was Tursunoy JABBOROVA (UZB), who was second in the snatch. The clean and jerk silver was won by Ankha MUNKHJANTSAN (MGL), who missed all three snatches and was one of five athletes who failed to make a total. Koanda will face strong opposition in the 81kg class. Three hours before her victory, two Olympic champions and a silver medallist from Tokyo lined up for the 81kg and all of them were beaten by LIANG Xiaomei (CHN) in her first senior competition. None of those Olympic medallists – 87kg champion WANG Zhouyou (CHN) and runner-up Tamara SALAZAR (ECU), and 76kg winner Neisi DAJOMES (ECU) – even made the podium in the snatch. Two Ukrainians, the only Europeans among the 11 athletes, won gold and silver in the snatch - Iryna DEKHA (UKR), who bombed out in Tokyo, on 122kg and Alina MARUSCHAK (UKR) on 119kg, with Liang third on 118kg. The Ukrainians dropped away to finish fourth and sixth on total when they both failed twice at 142kg in the clean and jerk. Dajomes missed two of her clean and jerks to finish fifth, while Salazar moved up from sixth to third place on 114-148-262, taking the clean and jerk bronze behind Liang and Wang. Wang went from fifth to second by making all her clean and jerks. Her 115-151-266 was 4kg down on her Tokyo total. Liang was clear on 118-152-270 and even had a try at a clean and jerk world record, failing with her last attempt at

Double gold for Arab nations: ‘Now come on Morocco’ says Elbakh

By Brian Oliver Fares ELBAKH (QAT) and Sara Samir AHMED (EGY) both won a world title for the first time on a good day for Arab nations at the IWF World Championships. Samir won the women’s 76kg and Elbakh the men’s 102kg, after which he said, “It’s a good omen for Arab nations, now we want Morocco to win as well.” Morocco play France in the World Cup semi-finals today (Wednesday) in Qatar, Elbakh’s home nation. “I’ve been following it on TV and I’ve got my VVIP ticket sorted for the final on Sunday,” he said. ‘I’m hoping it will be Morocco but if France beat them I’ll be cheering for Argentina in the final.” Samir, though, will not be cheering for anybody. “I don’t like football,” she said. There were six medallists in the men’s 102kg, in which Artyom ANTROPOV (KAZ) gained nine places after finishing 15th in the snatch and came within one missed lift of a medal on total. His 163kg would not have made the top four in the B Group, and his best clean and jerk was 59kg higher at 222kg – good enough for gold. In a very tight finish Antropov was sixth after failing at 227kg. Elbakh, who declined his last two attempts as he had already won, finished on 174-217-391. As in the Asian Championships in October, Elbakh – the Olympic champion at 96kg – posted a lower total than Lesman PAREDES (BRN), despite competing in a heavier weight category. The two are friends are expected to face each other in the 102kg category at Paris 2024, and Elbakh said it will be “a case of he who laughs last”. There was only 3kg between first place and sixth in the snatch, where the medals  went to Reza DEHDAR (IRI) on 177kg, Marcos RUIZ (ESP) on 176kg, and Samvel GASPARYAN (ARM)  on 175kg. In the clean and jerk Antropov won gold, Elbakh was second on 217kg with his only lift, and Bekdoolot RASULBEKOV (KGZ) took bronze, also on 217kg. On total it was Elbakh first,  Dehdar second on 177-213-390 and Gasparyan third on 175-214-389. Samir, who became the first woman from an Arab nation to win an Olympic weightlifting medal in 2016, when she was third at 69kg, wants the big one in 2024. “I was very pleased with my performance today – now I want the gold medal in Paris,” she said. Samir won the African title in October at 81kg, and cut weight to win at 76kg category here on 113-148-261, the same total that won her the African title. Now she will go back up to 81kg for her next competition, which is expected to be the African Championships in Tunis in May. All the top three, Samir, Mattie ROGERS (USA) and KIM Suhyeon (KOR), enjoyed themselves and it showed in a lively medal ceremony. “We all had fun today, and we’re a happy group here… especially her,” said Rogers, pointing to Kim, who had been in tears after her medal-winning final lift before beaming as she left the platform. Kim had failed to make a total at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year but this time she made four from six for 108-137-245. Rogers had a sweep of silvers on 109-138-247, and the snatch bronze went to Bella Paredes of Ecuador, with Kim