News and Media


Phuket preview: Olympic champions among dozens desperate to take last chance for Paris

Hundreds of weightlifters from around the world will be going all-out in Thailand over the next two weeks as they make one final attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. At the end of the IWF World Cup in Phuket, about three-quarters of the 466 entries will head home in disappointment, some to plan ahead for the 2028 Games, others to retire. Olympic champions and world record holders are likely to be among those who do not qualify. Four gold medallists from the Tokyo Games are not currently ranked high enough, which means the top 10 in their weight category. Three are from China, sitting behind a team-mate in the rankings – Hou Zhihui, Wang Zhouyu and Chen Lijun. Neisi Dajomes is in a similar position, needing more kilos to overtake the Tokyo silver medallist Tamara Salazar, her Ecuador team-mate. A fifth Olympic champion, Hidilyn Diaz from the Philippines, could drop out of the 59kg top 10 if she has a bad day in Thailand. “I expect to be not just 100 per cent, maybe 110 per cent or more,” Diaz said as she looked ahead to the World Cup. Hidilyn Diaz (PHI) Besides these five, at least 10 silver and bronze medallists from Tokyo have a lot of work to do, including Julio Mayora from Venezuela and Mirko Zanni from Italy. While injuries and loss of form are factors, the cut in quota places from 196 in Tokyo to 120 Paris, and in weight categories from 14 to 10, is the main reason why so many of the sport’s big names face such a challenge in Phuket. “It’s going to be brutal in Thailand,” was the most popular prediction from athletes, coaches and federation officials during the penultimate round of qualifying, the 2024 continental championships held throughout February. They all agree that the World Cup will be like no other international competition as everyone aims for career-high numbers and a better ranking position. A good example of how “brutal” it will be comes in the first two Olympic weight categories at the World Cup. Julio Mayora (VEN) In the men’s 61kg only the top three in the simplified ranking list – one athlete per nation – have totalled 300kg or more. The entire A Group of 14 lifters in Phuket, including two each from China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, have entries of at least 300kg. One of them, Seyitjan Mirzayev from Turkmenistan, needs to improve his best ranking effort by 23kg to match his entry. All five athletes placed ninth to 13th go in the ultra-competitive B Group - Ivan Dimov from Bulgaria, Trinh Van Vin from Vietnam, Arley Calderon from Cuba, Simon Brandhuber from Germany and Shin Rok from Korea. That should be a session worth watching, not least because it will add more spice to the A Group. In the women’s 49kg only the top four in the rankings have hit the 200kg mark, yet twice as many have entered on 200kg or more. Chiaki Ajira from Japan, 23rd in the long list (two or more per nation), has never bettered 182kg. Good luck. Every day of competition in Phuket, from March 31 until April 11, will be highly competitive. Some sessions will be unmissable. Li Dayin (CHN) China decided not to send a team to the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan in February, preferring to focus on the World Cup. Double Olympic champion Shi Zhiyong’s contest against Rahmat Erwin, the multiple world record holder from Indonesia, at 73kg will be one of the highlights. Li Dayin from China and Karlos Nasar from Bulgaria are separated by 1kg at the top of the 89kg rankings. The presence of Keydomar Vallenilla from Venezuela, Yeison Lopez from Colombia, Mir Mostafa from Iran and Nino Pizzolato from Italy adds to the allure of what could be the most exciting competition of all. Or it might be the 102kg A Group. The 96kg Olympic champion Meso Hassona is up against Liu Huanhua from China, 96kg snatch world record holder Lesman Paredes from Bahrain, Jang Yeonhak from Korea, Yauheni Tsikhantsou from Belarus, competing as an Individual Neutral Athlete, and two closely matched Armenians, Samvel Gasparyan and Garik Karapetyan. All of them could go higher than 400kg. In this category no athlete has ever made the world standards, set in 2018, of 191-231-412. Perhaps a world record holder will emerge in Phuket. China is expected to dominate the women’s events, although DPR Korea will no doubt provide strong opposition even if its athletes are ineligible for Paris, having entered the qualifying programme too late. Olivia Reeves (USA) The rankings leaders in all five women’s weight categories are Chinese. Olivia Reeves, the improving 20-year-old from the United States, will be aiming to close the 11kg gap behind Liao Guifang at 71kg. There are many questions to be answered in Phuket. Will super-heavyweight Lasha Talakhadze be fit enough to compete after sitting out the Qatar Grand Prix? Will Italy have two athletes in Paris, or if they avoid bombouts might it be as many as six? Will Mexico have none, or three? Will any from France make the top 10? Will those Individual Neutral Athletes from Belarus state their claim as medal contenders in Paris? Who might scare off China in the women’s categories? The final ranking lists will be published soon after the competition ends on April 11. The top 10 in the 10 Olympic weight categories are eligible for Paris. Nations who qualify more than the maximum three men and three women will have to notify the IWF of their selections by May 6. If China or the United States, for example, decline a place in any weight category because they have better medal chances elsewhere, a lucky athlete placed 11th will move into the top 10. There will still be hope for some athletes lower down the lists, because 10 places are allocated to continental qualifiers, six to universality invitations, and a maximum of four for France as host nation. The complete rules and deadlines are available here. It will be brutal, there will be bombouts, but the IWF World Cup is a competition not to be missed. By Brian Oliver Photos by Giorgio

Sustainability: start of a successful journey for IWF

Following the launch of the IWF Sustainability Programme in 2023, the IWF Executive Board member in charge of this project Florian Sperl and the IWF CEO Achilleas Tsogas met recently in Lausanne (SUI) with the representatives of Sporting Giants, our International Federation’s partner in charge of conceiving a Sustainability Strategy, to be presented and implemented from October 2025 onwards.   This process has included so far a thorough assessment of the situation in terms of the IWF sustainability actions (or lack of them), and will proceed with extensive consultation with all stakeholders of the weightlifting community. This approach will allow the elevation of successful case studies already in place on a local or national level, and will also establish the priorities of the Sport family in this field. From left to right: Dan Reading (Sporting Giants), Achilleas Tsogas (IWF CEO), Florian Sperl (IWF EB member), Scott Over (Sporting Giants) and Timea Horvath (IWF Development and Education Manager) During the two-day rendezvous in Lausanne, there was also time for a meeting with IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), an organisation with whom the IWF signed an agreement, under “The Sports for Nature Framework”. Four principles guide this protocol, namely: 1. Protect nature and avoid damage to natural habitats and species; 2. Restore and regenerate nature wherever possible; 3. Understand and reduce risks to nature in your supply chains; and 4. Educate and inspire positive action for nature across and beyond sport. The main goal of those actions is, according to the agreement, “to deliver transformative, nature positive action across sports by 2030 and beyond, enabling sports to champion nature and contribute to its protection and restoration”.   Moreover, sustainability efforts are also encouraged by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and by IOC’s Sustainability Strategy. Finally, it is one of the seven fundamental values identified in the global IWF Strategic Plan, adopted in September 2023. Meeting with IUCN representatives Florian Sperl, IWF EB member in charge of the project, spoke of an exciting new path of development for our International Federation: “As a global and influential industry, Sport should also play its part in this important mission. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to a happier and healthier world: sustainable principles also share this philosophy, so this synergy is of course very complementary. We needed an external partner to guide us at this stage, but in the end the effort must be implemented by each and every one of our weightlifting members”.    The IWF CEO Achilleas Tsogas also underlined the importance of this programme: “We need to make sure that all these nice concepts and intentions will be part of the IWF action in the years to come. ‘Sustainability’ is a wide concept, so there is a lot of room for our International Federation to take some decisive steps in this area. We have already an idea of where we are at the moment, but we definitively need a roadmap to help our National Federations, organisers of IWF events, and all those involved with weightlifting to successfully initiate this journey,” Mr Tsogas said. IWF

Hail Australia’s new Olympic Amazon

Behind Eileen Cikamatana’s killer smile and impressive muscles is a humble determination to triumph for her adopted country and family at the Paris Olympics. The dual Commonwealth Games champion and the first woman to win Commonwealth gold for two countries, will compete in the 81kg weightlifting category at her first Olympics.  “Going to Paris will be out of this world,” the 24-year-old Fijian/Australian said. “No one would ever dream how far I have come, especially considering how naughty and tricky I was growing up. Yeah, I still am.  “The Olympics are my dream. So much sweat and tears in the gym. The medals are what we are training for. My hopes are high.” Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia Cikamatana has literally come a long way since she was a kid growing up in the village of Levuka on the Fijian island of Ovalau, 65km north east across the Pacific from Suva. She started weightlifting at the behest of a teacher who believed that the kid who comfortably carted bags of pig feed on her Dad’s farm could grow up strong enough to lift an adult pig – over her head. Aged just 15 Cikamatana left her “fruit salad family” and simple village life to become a full-time athlete at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in New Caledonia.  “My Mum Maria is half-Fijian and half-Welsh while Dad Sevanaia (Junior) is half-Fijian and half-Chinese,” she said. “My humble beginnings keep me centered. How I was brought up by my parents has got me to where I am today. They are my Superheroes. Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia “I saw how they struggled when I was growing up. No matter how hard life was they never gave up on providing us with what we needed. I want to make them proud and to be the reason for their smiles.” Success and smiles came quickly after moving to Noumea, New Caledonia under the guidance of Australian weightlifting royalty Paul and Lilly Coffa – who she calls “the dynamic duo”.  “They saw the potential in me and they have taken me to a higher level,” she said.  Competing for Fiji as an 18-year-old, Cikamatana won gold in the 90kg category at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But just one year later Cikamatana was faced with another huge decision. The Fijian Weightlifting Federation brought in a new coach who insisted she relocate from her New Caledonia training base back to Fiji. She refused, knowing her future was with Coach Coffa who famously trained the future President of Nauru Marcus Stephen to win Nauru’s first gold medal in any sport at the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games in Canada. Stephen describes Coffa as “the father figure of weightlifting in the Pacific region”, adding “don’t forget, Lilly is everything to us as well.” Before moving to Nauru in 1994 Coffa was Australia’s national coach for 15 years, including at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where tuna fisherman Dean Lukin won gold and team mate Robert Kabbas won silver.  Paul is also one half of the famous weightlifting Coffa brothers who migrated from Sicily to Australia as teenagers. Paul’s older sibling Sam Coffa, the former Hawthorn Mayor, has been the Australian Weightlifting Federation president since 2018 following his earlier 1983-2007 term, plus he was Commonwealth Games Australia president from 1999-2018.   Photo by Louise Evans Cikamatana’s determined decision to stick with younger brother Paul as her coach triggered another seismic shift in her young life. She farewelled her country of birth and in 2019 became an Australian. Then a year later she relocated again, with Coffa and the Oceania Institute to Melbourne in the middle of the Covid pandemic. Again success followed quickly with Cikamatana winning her second Commonwealth Games gold, this time for Australia in Birmingham in 2022, breaking three Commonwealth Games records in the 87kg class. Cikamatana says she’s now physically and mentally stronger than that “little village girl” who starred in Birmingham. She also boasts improved competition personal bests of 115kg in the snatch and in the clean and jerk she’s lifted 146kg, which is the weight of a piano, a panda or a big adult pig on her dad’s farm. Come Paris she’ll be competing in the 81kg category which she states as her natural body weight.  “My biggest competition in Paris will be myself,” she said. “You can be your own worst enemy so I am focused on being a better athlete and a better competitor every time I am on stage.”  Since she was 15 Eileen Cikamatana has forged her own path, moving countries twice and changing nationalities to become a proud wearer of the green and gold. “I don’t pay attention to other competitors. I look at the weights and the numbers. Then you lift a big weight over your head, the feeling is indescribable. “I love what I do and it loves me back. My sport challenges me to break my barriers every day. ”I’m looking forward to competing for Australia, for my coach and my family and to make everyone smile.” By Louise Evans This article was originally published here: Hail Australia’s new Olympic Amazon - Sportshounds

Don’t be late for the 2024 IWF World Cup!

The last qualification event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – the IWF World Cup in Phuket (THA) – is around the corner and all National Member Federations are kindly reminded that they must proceed to the online verification of their Final Entries by this Sunday, March 17, 2024 at 12:00 (noon, CET), exactly two weeks before the start of the event. To complete this procedure, National Federations must enter the IWF E-Entry System (here), click on the "VERIFICATION OF FINAL ENTRIES FOR 2024 IWF WORLD CUP, PHUKET, THA"  tab at the top of the page, and then confirm the athletes taking part in the World Cup or delete the ones that won’t be in Thailand. As it happened in the last IWF events in 2023, and given the importance of the IWF World Cup and the associated TV exposure and visibility of the competition, namely of the A sessions, the IWF intends to ensure that the list of athletes announced after the verification of final entries corresponds to the number of lifters effectively competing in those sessions. This is of paramount importance to minimise the time gap between the time scheduled for TV purposes and the actual duration of each A session. Therefore, National Federations are invited to use the "Weigh-In Only" button (in the right column) for athletes who do not wish to compete but are only weighing-in in Phuket. By clicking on this box for a selected athlete, the Entry Total is automatically reduced to 60 kg. If the athlete still wishes to compete, he/she may continue to do so with the 60 kg Entry Total, but will be placed in the weakest group of his/her bodyweight

Celebrating women in weightlifting: Luisa Peters (COK)

When celebrating the International Women’s Day, the best way to illustrate their importance, namely in the world of weightlifting, is to point out concrete examples. On this special occasion, we look into a tiny country in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, constituted by paradisiac portions of land, the Cook Islands. With less than 20’000 inhabitants, a distinguished citizen and successful lifter has become one of the most respected members of the weightlifting family: Luisa Peters. Born on June 27, 1993 Peters is presently a member of the IWF Athletes Commission – she was elected with her peers during the 2022 IWF World Championships in Bogota (COL) -, but is also part of the IWF Executive Board (EB). After the recent reforms in our International Federation, its Board includes three members of the Athletes Commission, with full voting rights – its Chairman Forrester Osei, the Olympic champion from the Philippines Hidilyn Diaz, and Peters. Overall, the EB has nine women, well above the minimum six stipulated in the IWF Constitution. But Peters’ path began well before she could be at the top of the IWF management. “I was introduced to weightlifting at the age of 14 years old by my grandmother who was a sports enthusiast. She had taken to me the National Weightlifting training centre and I was coached by Sam Pera Snr who was the top weightlifter in the Cook Islands,” she recalls. By that time, in 2007, women’s weightlifting around the world was getting consolidated, after the entry into the Olympic Games in 2000, and the first IWF World Championships in 1987. In the Cook Islands, the situation was not different: “I remember as my grandmother and I pulled up to the training centre, she told me ‘Luisa, I want you to do weightlifting, I want you to show female athletes that no matter the barrier we can achieve our goals’. Weightlifting was not a sport that females did in our country. So, if I had to convince, today, a teenage girl to start weightlifting, I would also say ‘Go for it, weightlifting is for both boys and girls and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it!’” Motivated by another strong woman, her grandmother, Peters soon realised she had talent and potential in the sport. “I attended my first international competition in 2008, the Oceania Championships”. Looking at the IWF records, this debut was modest – in the +75kg category, she lifts 48-60-108, exactly three months before completing her 15th birthday. Things would progress quickly, and in October 2009, she gets her first medal, at the Commonwealth Junior Championships, finishing third in 58-74-132. Fast forward three more years, and we find Peters at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. “I was the first female Olympic weightlifter for the Cook Islands, and I was the only one for quite some time until another female athlete, Phillipa Woonton, joined me in 2015”. In the British capital, she is 11th in the +75kg, lifting 82-100-182. In 2015, she takes part in the IWF World Championships, and despite a solid progression (95-115-210), she is only 29th in her category. In August 2016, she travels to Rio de Janeiro for her second and final Olympic participation - she does again much better (100-124-224), and leaves Brazil in 14th place. Two years later, she concludes her career at the Commonwealth Games, with a 100-125-225 effort (fifth overall), one kg short compared with her personal best of 100-126-226 achieved in 2017 at the Pacific Cup International, an event she won. “The Olympic participations are my best memories in the sport as they are the pinnacle of any athlete’s career”. For more than five years now, she has conciliated her normal job as a police officer, with her duties in the IWF and in the Oceania Weightlifting Federation (as Vice-President, she was the first-ever female board member of the continental body), but also with the presidency of the Cook Islands Weightlifting Federation, for which she was elected at the end of February. Reflecting on her IWF responsibilities, Peters says: “This is really important to me because it means that our small continent of Oceania has a voice within the IWF. Overall, I think the number of women competing and officiating in weightlifting has grown in recent years. When I started, there were very few women involved in weightlifting but fast forward 15 years and most countries have now a full youth, junior, and senior women’s team. Moreover, IWF is doing well in promoting women in sports, just have a look at the number of females we have on the Executive board”. On a more local level, and taking into account the geographical challenges of her tiny nation – the international airport of Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, connects Auckland, in New Zealand, in about five hours, Honolulu, in Hawaii, in seven hours, and Sydney, in Australia, in eight hours! -, she is well determined to keep weightlifting in good shape. “My plan for the future is to develop Athletes and Officials in weightlifting in the Cook Islands so that our sport can stay alive for when I’m no longer involved”. As a weightlifting role model in Oceania, Peters believes that Sport can be a strong tool to improve gender-balanced representation around the planet. “Sport is really a powerful platform, where all genders can be embraced equally. Sport can help by opening lots of opportunities for all genders so that all can enjoy a high quality of life,” she concludes. By Pedro AdregaIWF Communications Check also an inspiring story on the International Women's Day in the Asian Weightlifting Federation's website:Strength in Diversity: How Women are Reshaping the World of Weightlifting – Asian Weightlifting Federation

The 2024 IWF Development Programme is on!

The IWF is pleased to announce that the 2024 Development Programme was launched and all relevant information has been sent to its Member Federations. In accordance with the related guidelines, national bodies aiming at receiving financial support have to send applications by March 15, 2024. For a maximum of US$ 6,000 per year and per National Federation, these funds may be used for equipment donation, seminars’ organisation, or event support. All requests are evaluated by the IWF Development and Education Commission and a strict monitoring is done to evaluate the implementation of the projects. More details can be found in the application guidelinesPlease find all the documents to be