A new elite weightlifting competition format is on the horizon. On April 14, 2022, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced it is sponsoring the first-ever “Street Weightlifting” competition will be held in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 23, 2022. The contest will feature 14 elite “athletes and Olympians from Europe, South America, and the Middle East” competing in a mixed team format — two athletes representing the same country pair up to compete against other nations in an outdoor setting.
Per IWF President Michael Irani, the contest aims to “showcase how great our sport is in urban settings.” Additionally, the IWF launches the Athlete Ambassador Program, which features four elite weightlifters “chosen as role models…to promote, educate, and strengthen equal, fair, and clean sport.” The four athlete ambassadors are:
IWF Athlete Ambassadors
The four IWF athlete ambassadors have three Olympic medals and three IWF World Championship medals between them.
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Fares Ibrahim Saed Hassouna El-Bakh, also known as Meso Hassona, of Qatar, is 23 years old and competes in the 96-kilogram weight class. His relatively young career is already heavily decorated with competitive accolades highlighted by his Olympic gold medal from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games — the first-ever gold medal won by a Qatari athlete. He also set an Olympic record at those games with his 402-kilogram total.
Hassona is a two-time IWF Junior World Champion (2017 at 85-kilograms, 2018 at 94-kilograms). He also scored a bronze medal in the 85-kilogram class in 2016. Since moving into the Senior division, he earned a bronze medal at the 2017 IWF World Championships at 94-kilograms and a silver medal two years later at 96-kilograms.
Stevens is a 28-year-old weightlifter from Malta who competes in the 64-kilogram class. The pinnacle of her career thus far is a bronze medal from the 2018 Commonwealth Games secured via her 187-kilogram total.
This is a unique event showcasing the ethos of the Olympics, citius, altius, fortius, in the heart of the Olympic city.
Stevens made her Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where she finished 13th overall with a 189-kilogram total.
The 31-year-old Diaz of the Philippines is the most decorated weightlifter among the athlete ambassadors. She has two Olympic medals — silver from the 2016 Rio Games in the 53-kilogram class and gold from the 2020 Tokyo Games at 55-kilograms with a 224-kilogram total. It was the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines.
Additionally, Diaz won bronze at the IWF World Championships three times (2015, 2017, and 2019), a bronze, silver, and gold at the Asian Championships (2016, 2019, and 2015, respectively), and won the 2018 Asian Games.
The 26-year-old Paredes of Colombia competes in the 96-kilogram class. He won gold at the 2021 IWF World Championships, where he set the current snatch world record of 187 kilograms. At that contest, he scored his career-best total of 400 kilograms. He is a two-time Pan American Champion at 102 kilograms, having won gold in 2020 and 2021. He also won silver at the 2016 Junior World Championships.
Featured image: @mesohassona on Instagram