COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Ursula Papandrea has relaunched her International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Presidency ‘Courage to Change’ manifesto on a platform of innovation and independence.
Papandrea, who served as IWF Acting President from April to October 2020 before being removed by its Executive Board as she sought to invoke wide-ranging reforms, is determined to restore the sport to core status within the Olympic program.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed concerns over the IWF’s governance and Papandrea believes that the governing body must be progressive if it is to thrive in the 21st century.
Papandrea said: “Olympic program status is vital for weightlifting, for the hopes and dreams of our athletes to compete on the biggest stage of all, but there is an overreliance on IOC funding which isn’t sustainable for the future of the sport and we must find new ways to fund and grow the sport.
“Innovation is vital. That means we need to modernize our events and bring in new, engaging formats that attract younger and wider audiences, which in turn will attract new broadcast deals and sponsors.
“Transforming the governance of the sport, to ensure full separation between competition and doping controls, will also give us the platform to attract new fans and attract new crossover audiences from CrossFit or bodybuilding for instance.
“Weightlifting is one of the oldest sports in the world but technology has moved on and we must embrace it to engage spectators, media and athletes alike.”
Papandrea’s manifesto is based on five pillars:
- Integrity and Clean Sport
- Good Governance and Transparency
- Membership Empowerment
- Sport Development
- Financial Growth
Papandrea added: “If I become IWF President, it’s fundamental that we conduct a strategic review and learn from what other sports have done to reinvent themselves for the modern age without losing touch with our core values.
“At present, we are not using fan data in any meaningful way, we are relying on tried and trusted methods that are long since out of date and after the challenges of the past 18 months, we need to refresh our brand and our approach to the sport.
“Let’s bring in global competitions, with new formats that create more drama and interest. Let’s stage international team events that excite audiences beyond just the lifting of the bar.
“Only if we accept that the world has changed and approach the next chapter in the IWF’s history as the beginning of an exciting new journey can our sport thrive and grow as we believe it should.”
The election for a new IWF President will take place in late December 2021.
Papandrea’s manifesto is available to read at ursulapapandrea.com/manifesto.