IWF athletes commission member optimistic about weightlifting’s future though “the changes aren’t going to be happening overnight”

Forrester Osei tells Around the Rings the IOC doesn’t want to kick the sport out of the Olympics. “They want to see an organization that has been in the dark waters to finally say enough is enough”.

Forrester Osei, who was born in London, competes internationally for Ghana. (Ghana NOC)
Forrester Osei, who was born in London, competes internationally for Ghana. (Ghana NOC)

The International Weightlifting Federation still has some heavy lifting to do to return to the good graces of the International Olympic Committee, but Forrester Osei says he is “optimistic and hopeful” that his federation “can turn the bad name of weightlifting into a positive outcome”.

Osei, 32, is vice chair of the IWF athletes commission and attended the federation’s congress in Doha late last month that produced a new constitution.

In an interview with Around the Rings, Osei made it clear that much work still remains.

“I think we the athletes need to have a positive mindset and be patient enough to let this new constitution nurture itself into fruition because even though we’ve agreed on a new constitution it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Finally getting the new constitution passed was a major accomplishment for the federation, and eased the pressure somewhat from the IOC, which called the approval of the new statutes an “important step” in the reform process towards good governance of the federation.

Next up for the IWF is the electoral congress to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in December.

The IOC said earlier this month that it would be closely monitoring the results of the elections before making any decisions on the sport’s Olympic future. The IOC Executive Board was given the power in early August to suspend a sport from participating in the Olympics if a federation fails to follow specific guidelines given to it by the IOC.

Osei says that fears of the sport being pulled from the program for Paris 2024, along with all the uncertainty tied to the leadership and governance of the IWF, have made it difficult for athletes to keep their focus.

“It is quite stressful not knowing what’s going to happen for a sport that you’ve been training all your life for,” he tells ATR.  “Opening up the news or going on the internet and finding out that your sport’s constantly being talked about, that you’re going to be kicked out of the Olympics, particularly the next Olympics Paris 2024, for someone that has to train and hope to compete at that level you sort of lose hope. You sort of lose motivation, you sort of lose that drive to keep on training, the drive to keep on excelling, because we just didn’t know what was going to happen next”.

Osei believes that in the end the IOC will keep weightlifting in the program for Paris 2024.

“They don’t want to kick us out. They want to see an organization that has been in the dark waters to finally say enough is enough. We are changing for the betterment of the sport, we are putting athletes first.”

Asked by ATR if he has any aspirations to run for a position within the federation after his competitive days are over, Osei says “I’d like to hope so. I’d like to possibly grow into some form of a role as a federation official member maybe once I retire.”

Osei says his experience as an athlete and as a member of the athletes commission gives him the tools to liaise between the next generation of athletes and the federation.