USA Weightlifting Features Ursula Garza Papandr...

Ursula Garza Papandrea Elected IWF Vice President

By Kevin Farley | May 29, 2017, 10:33 a.m. (ET)

USAW President & IWF Vice President Ursula Garza-Papandrea with IWF President Dr. Tamas Ajan at the 2017 IWF Electoral Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

A pioneer of women’s Weightlifting in the United States, USA Weightlifting President Ursula Garza-Papandrea shattered another glass ceiling Monday as International Weightlifting Federation members elected her as as the IWF’s first-ever woman Vice President.

Garza-Papandrea won the election with 87 votes of IWF member delegations, defeating Moira Lassen of Canada who garnered 55 votes. 

“I am honored beyond words by the support of the international Weightlifting community,” Garza-Papandrea told USA Weightlifting. “I had much encouragement by so many of the Weightlifting family and I am proud to serve Weightlifting at this level.”

Two leadership positions, Vice President and Executive Board Member, must be filled by women, according to the IWF Constitution ratified last fall. Garza-Papandrea is the first woman ever to be elected to the Vice President position.

Garza-Papandrea is one of only a handful of USA Weightlifting’s Senior International Coaches, a certification given to a coach whose athletes have reached the top echelons of Olympic Weightlifting competition. Garza-Papandrea is also a 5-time World athlete who represented Team USA during her athletic career. She is now the coach of Texas Barbell in Austin, Texas and serves as Chair of the USA Weightlifting Board of Directors. 

“We are so proud to be able to call Ursula as our Chair, and now Madam Vice President of the IWF,” USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said. “Ursula’s supportive, collaborative leadership with the support of our entire Board of Directors has been a true cornerstone for our organization, and we are sure the international community will find the same.”

“I was humbled by the support of my fellow USA Weightlifting Board of Directors who entrusted me to be the IWF delegate,” Garza-Papandrea said.

One of her first tasks as Vice President is to help implement the vision of the sport laid out by Dr. Tamas Ajan, who IWF Member Federations elected to serve a fifth term as president of the international federation.

“What an honor to begin the next quad in the hands of an experienced and generous leader,” Garza-Papandrea said of Ajan. “Dr. Tamas Ajan has grown, protected and developed this sport for decades. His selection is a show a solidarity and unity by the Member Federations and we are glad to be part of this family.”

Ajan, of Hungary, defeated Italy’s Antonio Urso by a vote of 86-61 Monday at the IWF Electoral Congress.

“Congratulations to our friend and colleague, Dr. Tamas Ajan,” Andrews said. “Dr. Ajan has proven a consistent and capable President and we look forward to assisting him and his secretariat in this quadrennial. We also look forward to welcoming Dr. Ajan to the IWF World Championships in Anaheim later this year.”

Three more members of USA Weightlifting’s family will stand for election during the 2-day Electoral Congress in Bangkok. 

USA Weightlifting Technical Director—and 3-time Olympic Champion— Pyrros Dimas is standing for re-election to the Executive Board under his home nation of Greece. 

Longtime coach Dr. Kyle Pierce is seeking re-election to a seat on the IWF Coaching & Research Committee. Prior to ballots being cast for President, the IWF presented Dr. Pierce with the Gold Service Medal to honor his 27 years of service to the sport.


Dr. Kyle Pierce with his Gold Service Medal, which the IWF bestowed upon him in Bangkok.

USAW Technical Committee Chairman Joe Triolo is running for a seat on the IWF Technical Committee. USAW Medical Society Chairman Dr. Mark Levallee is running for a seat on the IWF Medical Committee. 

Elections to these seats will be held Tuesday.