Geneva, Nov 11 (SocialNews.XYZ) Mohammed Jalood, president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said it would be unthinkable if weightlifting was excluded from the Olympic Games as the sport has never missed a single Olympics since 1896.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstated weightlifting in the 2028 Los Angeles Games program at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai, India, on October 17, reports Xinhua.
"Being in the Games from the very beginning, it was unthinkable for us to be excluded from the Olympic celebration. In that sense, it was perhaps one of the most upsetting perspectives in our history," Jalood, who is not in the IWF headquarters in Lausanne, responded through emails to Xinhua's questions.
"But the shockwave provoked by this possibility has conducted to a profound change in our International Federation. Indeed, it has been quite a challenging road, but since the election of the IWF Executive Board in June 2022, a renovated team was 100 percent determined in changing the culture and the functioning of our International Federation," he added.
Weightlifting was not on the list of the Initial Sports Program of LA28 that was proposed to the IOC Session in February 2022, and the sport might miss the Olympics if it could not meet the criteria of the IOC before the 2023 Session.
IOC set up a "pathway" for weightlifting, as well as boxing and modern pentathlon, to be re-included in the LA28 after they showed their efforts and ability to fight against bad governance, doping, finance, and etc.
Jalood said IWF made many changes in governance, including "constitutional revision imposing term limits to the IWF officials, ensuring gender equity in our structure, providing an increased athlete representation and voice, reinforcing integrity and safeguarding mechanisms, promoting inclusion with the creation of an IWF Refugee Team, a specific policy on gender identity and also on human rights and non-discrimination, or creating the first-ever IWF Strategic Plan, for the period 2024-2032."
The IWF also delegated anti-doping responsibilities to the International Testing Agency (ITA) and increased the budget to improve testing, anti-doping education courses, and the investigative powers of the ITA.
As a result of the new anti-doping strategy, all tests were negative at the IWF World Championships in September in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
"Weightlifting restored its reputation and is now considered as an important player in the Olympic movement, capable of providing added-value to the Games' program," Jalood said. "This represents an incredible satisfaction to the millions of lifters worldwide, and it also constitutes a huge responsibility for the IWF. The IOC has positively valued what has been done by the weightlifting family, but there aren't any results taken for granted in sport."
"This is the challenge and the obligation we have for the years to come. But I am optimistic and confident that all weightlifting stakeholders will make their utmost to keep up the positive work," he added.
Weightlifting will still feature at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games but only have 10 categories and 120 athletes in the competition, which is a significant cut from the Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016.
"Unfortunately, this dramatic cut had to do with the reputational problems the IWF was facing in the past," Jalood said. "We believe we entered a new cycle of success, and we will of course fight for the improvement of the present 120-athlete quota in the Olympic Games. This is of course a huge effort, given the introduction of new sports in the Games' program and the need to keep the overall athlete participation numbers within a reasonable limit."
The president said that traditional weightlifting also needs renovations to keep up with the pace of the Olympic Movement, and the Strategic Plan already contemplates some changes for the future.
In 2022, the IWF staged the first Street Weightlifting competition in Lausanne, and a mixed-team competition was staged at the inaugural European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) Cup in Ancient Olympia Greece in October.
"We are open to innovation and to weightlifting formulas that can reach a wider audience, and can effectively get closer to the youth and all those practicing our sport (both on an indoor facility or in an outdoor environment)," Jalood said.